Lizzy Curland

814 Words4 Pages
Paraphrase:
The amount seemed sensible, and the location was fair. The property owner promises she lives elsewhere. The only thing left was to admit my different race. I alert the landlady that I am African. Silence is now the only transmission through the phone. She finally spoke, and her voice came from a lipstick coated, cigarette-smoking mouth. I feel foolish and caught off guard. The landlady was running through all the different shades in her mind when she finally asked aggressively how dark I am. I was so surprised by the question that I thought I misheard. I knew I heard correctly when she started shouting again, asking if I was light or very dark. Button B and button A must to be pressed when using a public telephone booth, but
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The lady hangs up the telephone.

Summary:
The central conflict in “Telephone Conversation” is between the caller and the racism he experiences through a phone conversation with a property owner. The conversation starts off with an African man phoning a landlady, wishing to rent an apartment. Once the landlady answers, the man feels the need to confess about his nationality, since he is aware there is wide spread prejudice against African people. However, he is shocked when finding her cold, impersonal reaction to his race. The landlady, being a stereotypical racist, started to ask him how dark his skin tone was, to clarify his color. He felt ashamed to have to diagnose his color saturation, so he tried to joke about the various colors of certain body parts. Mocking the prejudices of the landlady, he shifted the offensiveness of the conversation on her. In addition, the persona now displays a new confidence as he determines the call is about to end. Unfortunately, any resolution between the two characters is unobtainable, because the landlady hang up on him. In the end, the caller hadn’t purchased an apartment, but has confirmed his fear of discrimination.

Analysis
This poem is in the form of free verse, because the conversation isn’t planned out; the speakers speak what they want. Also, with the continual of end-stop and run-on lines, readers get a sense of random formation, the way a telephone conversation should flow. The free

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