The Telephone Conversation-a Summary.

1705 WordsJun 14, 20137 Pages
* Telephone conversation is about an African man who wishes to rent an apartment and so has phoned the landlady to inquire. Once the landlady answers the man decides he must confess, as if he has committed a crime, about his nationality as the persona in the poem is well aware of the wide spread prejudice against people of African descent and feels he must get the fact out of the way. However, unaware of the extent of the landlady 's ignorance, he is shocked and annoyed by her cold, inpersonal and demeaning approach to his confession. On hearing her reply, her voice strikes the man as that of a a pretentious snob, describing the voice as "Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled/Cigarette-holder pipped". The landlady, concerned by this…show more content…
Wole Soyinka uses two main literary devices to drive home the message of the poem. The first of the two is imagery. Right at the beginning, the imagery used to describe the mental image the man has of the woman: “lipstick coated, gold rolled cigarette holder piped”, just from listening to her voice shows one that he thinks that she is, socially speaking above him, from a higher social class. Then when he hears her question regarding how dark he is, he is so humiliated and angry that he sees red everywhere. The imagery of the huge bus squelching the black tar is symbolic of how the dominant white community treats those belonging to the minor black one. The next most evident use is that of irony. In the beginning of the poem, the African says that he has to “self-confess” when he reveals his skin color to the lady. The color of his skin is something that he has no control over, and even if he did, it is not a sin to be dark skinned, so the fact that the man feels ashamed and sorry for this is ironical and casts light on how ridiculous racism is that one should apologize or be differentiated against solely because of the color of one’s skin. Also, it seems almost comical that anyone should be so submissive when he has actually committed no mistakes. On the other hand, the lady is continuously described in positive terms, suggesting that she is of a
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