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While the Wheel Keeps Spinning: A Gradual Descent into Delightful Madness Essay

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Introduction: When Life Is at Stake

Though it is truly hard to say that the motif of gambling is new to most of the world literature would be a considerable stretch, it goes without saying that Ellison adds a specific touch to it, making his story – that is, the story of a man who is slowly descending into madness – incredibly vivid. Instead of moralizing over the issue

Watching the Lead Character: Through Misery Lens

When knowing what the story is going to end with, it is quite shocking to see that it starts from a typical setting in the most typical place ever. Telling a story of a man whose wife is gradually dying while he cannot do a thing about it, the story immediately sets a gloomy background.

Even though it is generally considered that the protagonist loses his mind in the process of the game: “His faith in a bingo game turns into madness that ends with violence” (Thomas, 2008, 98). However, it can be argued that the character starts his descent into madness much earlier – to be more exact, from the very beginning of the novel.

“I ain’t crazy” (Ellison, n.d., 469), he says, as if trying to convince himself. Ellison only sets the mood for the rest of the story, but also indicates that the character will be soon undergoing a series of changes.

Escaping the Tight Grip of Despair

Another circle of madness begins at the point where Ellison explains that the protagonist’s wife is terminally ill. Devoting a great chunk of the story to developing these two characters and the relationships between them Ellison makes it clear that her being unwell adds to the lead character’s torments.

Another spin of insanity starts as the author reveals that the lead character drinks quite a lot. However, the major point, which is practically the gateway to insanity for the leading character, starts with a sudden stream of consciousness bursting under the pressure of the alcohol fumes: “The bottle gurgled again.

He closed his eyes […] and seeing the train coming, and running back as fast as he could go, and hearing the whistle blowing […]” (Ellison, n.d., 470). One of the most graphic scenes in the book, this one in particular shows the readers how far the lead character’s insanity can go.

A Playing of Fortune: Take Him Where the Wind Blows

Slowly gaining momentum, the madness of the lead character manifests itself in the most obvious way during the game. One can see it picking a faster pace in every single sentence: “He watched the wheel whirling past the numbers and experienced a burst of exaltation: This is God! This is the really truly God! He said it out loud, ‘This is God!’” (Ellison, n.d., 473).

Finally, as the lead character’s turn comes to take part in the game, he loses control over his feelings, and all hell breaks loose: “’Who am I?’ he screamed” (Ellison , n.d., 475). As the madness progresses, the turmoil enters into an even more intense phase.

It is quite peculiar that the magnificence of madness that grips the lead character is spilled out in the form of a silly song: “Shoot the liquor to him, Jimmy boy! / Clap-clap-clap” (Ellison, n.d., 476).

The pace of the entire story somehow reminds of a music tempo, which starts at the slowest pace: “The woman in front of him was eating roasted peanuts” (Ellison, n.d., 469), progresses to the fastest one: “He stumbled down the aisle and up the steps to the stage” (Ellison, n.d., 471) and ends with the slowest pace again: “he did not see the man’s slow wink” (Ellison, n.d., 477).

The Moment the Earth Stood Still

One must give Ellison credit for being extremely subtle with the ending of the novel. It is quite peculiar that author does not say that the lead character dies. Ellison does not need to state the painfully obvious; instead, he develops even more details and conveys the subtle message of despair, making the latter shoot the entire novel through:

“He only felt the dull pain exploding in his skull, and he knew even as it slipped out of him that his luck had run out on the stage” (Ellison, n.d., 477).

It is also quite peculiar that for a moment, the leading character does get in touch with reality, only to understand that he is going to be dead in the next few moments. A tragic climax to a tragic story, the ending leaves the impression that a delicate mechanism suddenly went wrong and finally broke into pieces.

Conclusion: Watch the Wheel Spinning

Though King of the bingo game cannot be called the most thrilling read, it definitely has a unique flair and a specific touch to it, which makes the reader sink into the imaginary world, taking it for granted.

Though told in a very brief manner and pointing at the most essential moments and details, the story still makes the audience sympathize with the lead character. With the help of specific pacing, the author adds a sharp edge to the narration, taking the reader into the imaginary reality. Let the game begin.

Reference List

Ellison, R. (n.d.) King of the bingo game. Retrieved from

Thomas, P. L. (2008). Reading, learning, teaching Ralph Ellison. New York, NY: Peter Lang.

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"While the Wheel Keeps Spinning: A Gradual Descent into Delightful Madness." IvyPanda, 23 Sept. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/while-the-wheel-keeps-spinning-a-gradual-descent-into-delightful-madness/.

1. IvyPanda. "While the Wheel Keeps Spinning: A Gradual Descent into Delightful Madness." September 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/while-the-wheel-keeps-spinning-a-gradual-descent-into-delightful-madness/.


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IvyPanda. "While the Wheel Keeps Spinning: A Gradual Descent into Delightful Madness." September 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/while-the-wheel-keeps-spinning-a-gradual-descent-into-delightful-madness/.

References

IvyPanda. 2019. "While the Wheel Keeps Spinning: A Gradual Descent into Delightful Madness." September 23, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/while-the-wheel-keeps-spinning-a-gradual-descent-into-delightful-madness/.

References

IvyPanda. (2019) 'While the Wheel Keeps Spinning: A Gradual Descent into Delightful Madness'. 23 September.

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