The Horrors of Society Illustrated in ‘Telephone Conversation’ by Wole Soyinka and ‘Prayer Before Birth’ by Louis Macneice
1091 WordsJul 15, 20185 Pages
In ‘Telephone Conversation’ we have a telephone conversation between a black man who wants to rent a room, from a white woman. We see that society is ignorant and racist. ‘Prayer Before Birth’ is a poem addressed to God from the point of view of an unborn baby who is scared to go into society. They both have negative views of society.
In ‘Prayer Before Birth’ society is presented as scary. The narrator is pleading and says ‘I fear’. She (no gender is specified as it is meant to symbolize all of humanity) is scared of ‘blood baths’. This uses alliteration and it is a metaphor. This could stand for all the violence that exists in the world – wars, murder, pain etc. She is scared of all the blood-shed that exists in the world. In some ways…show more content…
However, the white lady can only see in terms of ‘”DARK”’ or ‘”VERY LIGHT”’. She seems to be in a very black and white world. In ‘Prayer Before Birth’ we also have the idea that difference is not celebrated, as everyone has to become an ‘automaton’ and a ‘cog in a machine’. However, ‘Telephone Conversation’ is more positive as there is a man dealing with racism, and despite feeling anger , (symbolised by the ‘red booth’ and the ‘Red pillar box’ – the red symbolizing anger), he does not act with violence, he acts with humour – ‘Friction, caused … My bottom [to turn] raven black’. This reaction would go against some of the fears of the unborn baby – as the African man has kept his humanity, despite his bad experiences in society.
Society is … made to seem ridiculous
Soyinka’s main aim with this poem was to try to change people’s racist views. She does this by showing a racist incident, but showing it as ridiculous, thus highlighting just how stupid and nonsensical the racist views of 1950s British society actually were. The white lady is made to seem uneducated, as I have already said. Through the comparison of his education and her ignorance, she is mocked. She actually symbolises society at the time, and so by mocking her, the whole of society is mocked. Whereas he is, on the whole, very polite – he calls her ‘Madam’ , and he deals politely with her rude questions (except perhaps at the end).