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How do 'Telephone Conversation', 'Not My Best Side' and 'You Will be Hearing From Us Shortly' each portray prejudice, racism and stereotypes?

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Introduction

How do 'Telephone Conversation', 'Not My Best Side' and 'You Will be Hearing From Us Shortly' each portray prejudice, racism and stereotypes? 'Telephone Conversation' by Wole Soyinka, 'Not My Best Side' by U A Fanthorpe and 'You Will be Hearing From Us Shortly' by U A Fanthorpe all have prejudiced elements in them, each in different ways giving each poem different effects upon the reader. They each use different styles, forms, structures, tones and language features to illustrate these points. 'Telephone Conversation' is a poem about a 1960s black man applying for a room from a white English landlady. The landlady is racist; she is portrayed as a stereotypical 1960s woman who believed that the white race was far superior to the black. We learn of her views by her feelings on he black man's application, when the man mentions 'I am African', her immediate response is 'How Dark?' showing to the man and the reader that she is prejudiced against dark Africans. Her racism is repeated throughout the poem, due mainly to direct speech, quotations from the actual telephone conversation between the man and the landlady, e.g. 'Are you dark? Or very light?' Her racist remarks stand out from the poem as they are in direct speech. The fact that most of her comments are questions makes the conversation seem more like an inquisition, as if the black man has done something wrong. The questions also make her feelings more known to both the reader and the man. There is a lot of repetition within the landlady's speech, e.g. 'How Dark?' (Line 10) 'That's dark, isn't it?' (Line 27). The repetition of the word 'dark' emphasises how racist she is. In certain areas of the poem there is silence, where either character is clearly shocked at the other one's speech or actions; for example after the man tells her that 'I am African', there is silence, as the landlady considers what to do in her mind. ...read more.

Middle

The fact that the interviewer is going through a list of faults and appearance is on it shows that he is prejudice against people because of their appearance, opposed to their qualifications or ability for the position. In the next stanza, the interviewer starts with a snide comment 'And your accent?', once again missing out the verb as if he/she is going through a list of faults. The interviewer does not say anything negative about the accent; once again he/she just implies that it is a fault. He/she is prejudiced against the interviewer because of their accent, something that they cannot help that they have, and something that should not be seen as a handicap. The interviewer offends with a question 'That is the way you have always spoken, is it?', which again is implying offence but not stating it. The interviewer then says 'What of your education? Were you educated? We mean of course, where were you educated?' (Lines 24-27). The line 'were you educated' is a Freudian slip, a slip of the tongue where the interviewer reveals his opinion by accident. It may not be a Freudian slip but an intentional comment to offend the interviewer without actually insulting him/her. The 'we' once again is an intimidating trick, where the interviewer tries to make it appear that there is more than one of him/her. The final sentence is offensive to the place where she was educated as the interviewer asks 'how much of a handicap is that to you?' The last stanza is a general putdown of the applicant. The opening line is 'Married, children, we see.' The 'we see' gives the reader the hint that these features alone are enough to reject a contender. The following sentence is extremely cynical, as it has no main verb, e.g. 'The usual dubious desire to perpetuate what had better not have happened at all.' ...read more.

Conclusion

This shows how brave the traditional George was, opposed to the self-obsessed modern George in 'Not my Best Side'. Therefore 'Not my Best Side' challenges the traditional stereotypes; U A Fanthorpe makes the point that not all dragons are evil and vicious, not all women are dependant on men and not all men are brave and heroic. U A Fanthorpe creates new stereotypes, e.g. a stereotypical actor, a stereotypical feminist woman and a stereotypical self-obsessed, hi-tech man. Her intention for this may be to comment on how the relationship between men and women today is a far cry from the day of St. George, nowadays there is more equality and freedom, but people of both sexes are more judgemental. U A Fanthorpe also emphasises the point that you cannot escape 'the roles that sociology and myth have created for you'. In Telephone Conversation, Wole Soyinka creates a stereotypical landlady who is racist. Prejudice is portrayed using a number of techniques; direct speech, the Landlady's feelings, repetition, the fact that the narrator identifies with her racism, use of dialogue, change in volume (including use of silence), rhythm and questions. In comparison, in 'You will be Hearing From Us Shortly' U A Fanthorpe shows prejudice using a number of techniques, such as the cynical tone, intimating sentences, suggesting facts (not stating them), sarcastic and insultive tones, a distant style, the Freudian slip, the use of rhetorical questions, the absence of the candidate's replies, and the lack of verbs. Also the interviewer is portrayed as a typical interviewer who is prejudiced against any applicant not matching up to his ideal criteria. In 'Not My Best Side', U A Fanthorpe challenges the traditional stereotypes and also creates new stereotypes, (a pompous actor, a snobbish feminist and a self-obsessed man). She also emphasises the point that you cannot escape 'the roles that sociology and myth have created for you'. Therefore the three poems all convey prejudice, racism and show stereotypes in different ways that are all effective and work to make the poems successful. Graeme Bingham 11MN 04/02/03 20th Century Poetry Coursework ...read more.

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