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Telephone ConversationBy: Wole Soyinka This one stanza poem clearly elaborates on the idea of color prejudice that is common among most of middle class society. It

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Poetry Essay Telephone Conversation By: Wole Soyinka This one stanza poem clearly elaborates on the idea of color prejudice that is common among most of middle class society. It shows that how ever well educated and proper a black person might be, he is still not trusted by most whites. It also shows how colored people view the idea of questioning the darkness of their skin and also how the landlady, the white representative, views it. The poet starts out with an impersonal style at the beginning. He gives us an idea about the circumstances surrounding the situation, by revealing that he is trying to rent an apartment, and has found that this one seems to have a "reasonable" price, the "location", and the "landlady swore she lived off the premises". He then faces another problem which he seems to have experienced before; this problem is confessing his skin color to the landlady. ...read more.


Still in disbelief, the poet is assured he hasn't "misheard" as the landlady repeats the question in a slightly different form "are you light or very dark?" He compares her question to two buttons from which he is to choose "Button B" or "Button A." The poet also compares the situation to a foul smelling game of hide and seek as he says, the "stench of rancid breath of public hide and speak". Not knowing what to say in response to her question, the poet starts to look around at the "red booth, red pillar box, red double-tiered omni-bus squelching tar. We notice that everything seems to be red except for the tar which is black. The poet then explains how he feels shame and rage for this "ill-mannered silence", which is very ironic as the landlady is the one who should feel such shame for asking this obscene question. ...read more.


He then explains this as he says the palms of his hand and the soles of his feet are"peroxide blond", and his bottom is also "raven black". By mentioning his "bottom" Soyinka reveals the bad-breeding of the black man in contrast with that of the landlady, who chooses to hang up. Wishing she would just wait for a moment and as a final plea he asks if she wouldn't rather see for herself? This poem shows that although the black man has a better education the landlady seems to have the upper hand due to racial prejudice. He uses alliteration on the "s" and inversion to emphasize certain points like "considerate she was". In this free verse poem Soyinka uses advanced diction for the black man to show his education, while he uses comparatively basic wording for the landlady to show how poor her education is. Moreover, he uses a telegrammed style to get his point across using the minimum number of words. Finally, I think this poem succeeds in showing what racist middle class women are really like. ...read more.

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