Show MoreThe Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka
The three main characters in ‘The Lion and the Jewel’ are called Sidi,
Lakunle and Baroka the Bale. Each character has different thoughts about one another and each views the society in a different way. This essay introduces and describes each character and analyses their role in the play.
Sidi is the first character that the audience meets. She is a very attractive woman, known as the village ‘belle’. Her attractiveness influences her personality, by making her quite vain. An example of her vanity is when she receives photos through of her that featured in a global magazine, taken by a western man. The photographs, also affect Sidi’s perception of Baroka, by making her…show more content…
Naturally Sidi is entranced by this thought and complies with him. Baroka knows that Sidi likes to be told how beautiful she is, and if he could harness this desire, then seducing her would become much easier. After he manages to seduce her, Sidi feels tricked and disgusted and does not want anything to do with the Bale either.
She does however know that because she has slept with the Bale, she is no longer a virgin and therefore stays with Baroka as his latest addition to his wives. Sidi also decides to stay with the Bale, due to tradition, which she strongly believes in i.e. the Bale has the
‘Belle’ or in this case the ‘Lion’ has the ‘Jewel’.
Lakunle is classified as a ‘stranger’ to the village because of his western ideas. This is also reflected in the dance that occurs just before ‘noon’. Lakunle is a schoolteacher in the village, which is already a sign that his western ideas are slowly trying to creep them into the village, by educating his students in a way that a westerner would. His ideas are quite opposite to those of Sidi. Lakunle is more into change whereas Sidi is more conservative and tends to stick to tradition. To show Lakunle’s western ideas, he mentions ‘breakable plates’, which probably had been mentioned before in the village. Also when Lakunle proposes to Sidi, he is quoting
INSTRUCTIONS: Read the notes for the play ‘the lion and the jewel. Answer the questions which follow.
The term literally means when someone draws attention to themselves or creates a show. It is an event that is memorable for the appearance that it creates.
One of our first examples of spectacle is when Sadiku dances around a tree with the Bale’s image in hand, page 33, in celebration of the fact that she has scotched the Bale Baraoka. She made such a ‘spectacle’ of herself that her physical antics drew Sidi’s attention. This spectacle highlights Sadiku’s utter joy at scotching the Bale. She has triumphed in a society that requires women to conform to particular gender roles.
Sidi also creates a ‘spectacle of herself on page 44, when Baroka throws the young wrestler. She reacts to his victory with dancing and singing as with Sadiku and Baroka himself is surprised at the spectacle that she makes. This serves to highlight Sidi’s weakness to the audience, She wants a strong man. Regardless of his age. This spectacle signals the point at which Baroka gains a serious foothold in his seduction of Sidi.
Sidi creates a spectacle at the end of the play when she enters the market beautifully dressed “She is radiant, jeweled, lightly clothed, and wears, light leather- thong sandals. (pages 62-63) The spectacle is seen in the reaction from the villagers ‘They all go silent except for the long- drawn O-Ohs of admiration pages 63) They were awed by Sidi’s beauty and literally stop to appreciate it. The spectacle continues when Sidi sings a call and response song, with the aid of musicians, in celebration of her impending marriage
These are instructions that are written into the script of a play that indicate stage actions, the movement of performers props and the use of props as well as production requirements. Stage directions add life to the paly. For example, the stage direction that occurs during Baroka’s seduction of Sidi is very effective in allowing the reader to visualize the action. We see Baroka deliberately being coy with the following stage direction ‘as if trying to understand’ (page 40). Then we see Sidi knowingly playing along with Baroka ‘The mischief returns to her face ‘(page 41). There is also an aside on page 43 where Sidi implies that Baroka’s age makes him unattractive to her If Baroka were my father( aside) – which may take him to be – (page 43) This aside brings out Sidi’s youthful naiveté. She is only looking at the physical, as the young usually do. She is not trying to see beyond Bale Baroka’s physical form.
The unities dictate that ‘a good play should comprise one action, should take place in one day, and should happen in one place.’ Time The play for winning Sid’ takes place over the course of one day. It is split between morning, noon and night. We meet all the key players in the morning and the stage is set for the jewel, Sidi. We see Lakunle already vying for her attention, and Baroka‘s plan has been set in motion. Through the introduction of Sadiku. Night sees Sidi in Baroka’s clutches.
So the element of time is used in a very structured way because each part of the day is used to develop the plot. Place The story occurs only in the village of Illujinle. References are made to Lagos, but the main action does not leave the village. Action There is only one main plot, and sub-plots. The plot is based around the seduction of Sidi by both Lakunle and Bale Baroka. Admittedly, Lakunle’s seduction is quiet awkward and riddled with inconsistencies in tone, language and content, but it is a seduction none the less. Baroka’s seduction, however, is tempered by age and experience. The first half of the play belongs to Lakunle’s seduction scenes, while the second half is reserve for Bale Baroka.
This is a brief, memorable saying that expresses a truth or belief. Proverbs are used, in this context as euphemisms, as well as to emphasize points that the characters are making A prophet has honour except in his own home (page 51)
This proverb was uttered by Lakunle, when he was referred to as mad by Sidi. This proverb literally translates to: a great man is usually not appreciated in his own home. Lakunle confirms this when he states ‘Wise men have been called mad Before me and after, many more shall be So abused’ (page 5). In this case, Lakunle is emphasizing his unconcern for how the people view him. If the snail finds splinters in his shell he changes house. (page 6) This proverb’s context was based on Lakunle’s complaints about the backwardness of Illunjinle. Sidi is the person that utters this proverb and it means that if Lakunle dislikes living in Illujinle, then he should relocate. This represents Sidi’s politeness, or subversive boldness, because she is daring to insult Lakunle. The woman gets lost in the woods one day and every wood deity dies the next. (page 42) Bale Baroka utters this proverb when Sidi interrupt s his daily exercise. He tells her that he will allow her to watch.
This context implies that the proverb means that, literally, ‘if you slip, you will slide.’ It also carries a double interpretation because it could also mean that when a woman gets lost, or compromised sexually, it means disaster. This proverb acts as an introduction to Sidi’s seduction. If the tortoise cannot tumble it does not mean that he can stand (page 42) This proverb is uttered by Sidi when she tries to bait Baroka. She utters this proverb after she declares that the young wrestler will win Baroka. It means that just because someone does not seem to make mistakes, it does not mean that the person is perfect, or incapable of making mistakes.
This proverb emphasizes Sidi’s boldness, as well as her wit. When the child is full of riddles, the mother has one water-ot less (42) This riddle is Baroka’s retaliation to Sidi’s veiled insult. It means that when a child starts behaving like an adult, it is time to leave her mother’s home. He is telling Sidi that she is playing with fire. Until the finger nails have scraped the dust, no-one can tell which insect released his bowels (43) The context of this banter is when the Bale tells Sidi that he changes his wives when he tires them, and Sidi asks him if it is another changing time for the Bale. He responds with this proverb which means that he must literally investigate, before he chooses the next wife. The implication is that he needs to ‘try Sidi out’ before she becomes a contender for the position of his new wife.
Does the bush cow run to hole when he hears his beaters’ Hei-ei-wo-rah (46). Baroka responds in this manner when he believes that a slanderous statement has been made against him. It implies that Baroka is saying that he is not a coward. That he will defend himself. This proverb literally begs the question: will you be a coward Old wine thrives best within a new bottle (54)
This proverb was uttered at the height of Bale Baroka’s seduction of the jewel Sidi. It literally translates to mean that the old are at their best when they are teaching the young. He is telling Sidi that his age and experience will be an asset to her in all aspects of her life.
The monkey sweats; it is only the hair upon his back which still deceives the world (54) The context of this discussion is when Baroka tells Sidi that his life is not pleasure loving as many people think it is. Therefore this proverb means that important people have pressures too: it is just that one has to be close to them to see this, because the pressure is not reflected outwardly
Answer the following questions
1. There are many performances in The Lion and the Jewel.
(a) Summarize the dance of the lost traveler, as well as one other performance of your choice. (b) Discuss the dramatic significance of the both performances in the play. 2. The idea of the spectacle is an important one in the Lion and the Jewel (a) Examine a spectacle that both Sidi and Sadiku create
(b) Discuss the theme that is highlighted by Sadiku’s spectacle 3. Explain the concept of the Unities and discuss the ways in which the play conforms to this convention. Discuss the way in which one of the elements in the Unities contributes to the development of the plot. 4. Proverbs are brief, yet memorable sayings that express a truth or belief, (a) Using the following proverb: ‘If the snail finds splinters in his shell he changes his house’ (6) discuss the circumstances that surround this proverb, as well as the person that says it. (b) Discuss the character trait that it highlights about the speaker. 5. Choose any two proverbs in the text. Discuss the circumstances that surround the uttering of these two proverbs as well as their dramatic significance in the play.
INSTRUCTIONS: Read the notes on the two poems and answer the questions which follow
DREAMING BLACK BOY
I believe that we all dream when we are asleep. Most of these dreams have very little basis in reality. But there is another kind of dream which is based on our experiences. This is a longing, a hope or a wish for something that is lacking. You may dream of the day when CXC is finished so that you may have long periods of uninterrupted sleep. For those whose parents are working overseas you may dream of the holidays when your parents will visit or be home for good. What are some of the things that you dream of doing / being / having?
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a leader of the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.A. during the 1950’s and 1960’s. He lived in an environment that was similar to that of the boy in this poem. He had a dream that was memorialized in a famous speech. Among the things he dreamt was that his little children “will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character.” In trying to fulfil this dream Dr. King was assassinated in 1968 at the age of 39.
The full text of I have a dream
-I Have a Dream
Martin Luther King Jr. August 28, 1963
I say to you today, my friends, even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American Dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men are created equal”.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day down in Alabama with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and little white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plains, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all the flesh shall see it together. This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood.
With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day. This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning, “My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my father died, land of pilgrims’ pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring”. And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado! Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California! But not only that; let freedom ring from the Stone Mountain of Georgia! Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and mole hill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring, and when this happens,
When we let freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty, we are free at last”!
The horrific murder of the 14 year old boy, Emmett Till in 1955, puts the fears and concerns of the persona into context. Standing as one of the most-heinous, race-motivated crimes in America’s history, the kidnapping and savage lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till (pictured) in Mississippi still stirs embers of anger in the minds of many who have endured racism and injustice. Considered a transformative moment in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, Till’s death shocked a nation and still resonates deeply in the minds of Mississippians and others abroad. The circumstances surrounding Emmett’s death remain murky. His murder was supposedly sparked by Emmett making inappropriate advances toward a 21-year-old White woman, while visiting his mother’s home state in the Mississippi Delta region. Till and Curtis Jones went to buy sweet treats from a local market, Bryant’s Grocery and Meat Market.
Later, testimony from Jones stated that Till, a Chicago resident, bragged to him and other teens about his integrated school and a supposed White girlfriend. The moment supposedly prompted the boys to dare Emmett to speak to Carolyn Bryant, wife of store owner 24-year-old Roy Bryant. Several accounts have been reported of what Emmett Till actually said to the woman. Some reports say that Till wolf-whistled at Bryant, while others said he used suggestive language in a means to entice her. Carolyn Bryant later said that Till grabbed her around the waist and asked for a date and said that he used “unprintable” words as well. Either way, word got back to Rob Bryant and he employed a Black friend to seize a young boy walking down the street — only to have his wife say that they had the wrong person. After discovering how to find their target, Roy Bryant, half-brother John Milam, and another man (who was rumored to be African-American) drove to Rev. Moses Wright’s home, where Till was staying in the wee hours of the morning.
Threatening violence to the other residents, they took Till and threw him in the back of a pick-up truck then drove off. They reportedly drove to a barn nearby and pistol whipped the boy while they continued to beat him as the men debated on what to do with him next. Rev. Wright went looking for him — but fearful of his life — neglected to call the police. Curtis Jones got word back to the police, and Emmett’s mother, Mamie (pictured), was alerted that her son went missing. Bryant and Milam were questioned by local police and charged with kidnapping. The news reached Mississippi NAACP state field secretary Medgar Evers and Bolivar County lead rep Amzie Moore, who both disguised themselves and entered the cotton fields of the region in order to find clues about Till’s abduction. Three days later, Till’s body was found swollen with water and badly damaged in the Tallahatchie River. He had been shot, with evidence of a severe beating on his skin.
A local Mississippi newspaper speculated that the body found was not Till because it couldn’t be identified, even though Rev. Wright identified the body and retrieved a ring that Emmett wore. Amazingly enough, then-Mississippi Governor Hugh L. White was angered by the murder and sent notice to the NAACP that a full investigation was to take place. For Emmett’s mother, the painful process of burying her child also became a nationwide event as she demanded her son’s body be returned to Chicago with an open casket funeral (pictured above) to mark the brutality of the murder. Photos of the funeral appeared in the Chicago Defender and Jet magazine, inspiring protests and strong reactions from citizens both Black and White who found the crime to be extreme.
Although all evidence pointed to Bryant and Milam killing Emmett, a grand jury in November of that year neglected to indict the pair in the kidnapping of the boy, although they all but admitted their wrongdoing in an interview under the protection of double jeopardy. Till’s murder helped push along the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, which allowed the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate in local matters. While Bryant and Milam felt justified in their actions, they both died of cancer in their 60s.
Holding steadfast to their racist pride, the pair would be haunted by the death of Emmett Till in every instance and never found peace again. The kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till remains as one of Black America’s most-sorrowful moments but also a galvanizing one as well. Even as many relive the incident each time they’re exposed to it, there is some comfort that Emmett Till’s mother fought to the end to fight such injustice across the country and that the legacy of eliminating hate crime still lives on to this day TITLE
The title is appropriate as it prepares us for the aspirations of a boy who is black. The fact that his colour is mentioned in the title suggests that the poem is about a boy who suffers discrimination because of his race.
The poem might be seen as a wish list which draws attention to the areas in which this boy sees the need for change. The word wish is used twelve times. (Repetition)
Stanza one places our young dreamer in his classroom. He longs for the attention of his white teacher who is in the habit of ignoring him (his eyes go past him) even when he does something outstanding, like scoring a goal. He knows that he probably contributes to his own lack of visibility in that even when he knows the answer, he clams up. He feels that since he is in the process of getting an education he should not behave like his woodchopper ancestors who were not educated. He uses this simile to show that he needs to be more confident, assertive and self assured.
Stanza two recognizes how important education is as a means of improving your status in society, and so the boy wants to be educated “to the best of tune up”. Please pay attention to this metaphor. When musicians tune up their instruments, they are ensuring that they play at the right pitch. This boy is ambitious; he wants to be educated to the highest level possible. He knows that if you are educated, you should not feel that you have to “lick boots” (metaphor); that is to do something low, wrong, disgraceful or demeaning to impress someone in authority because you want a job or a promotion.
He wants to be free to travel all over the world without being humiliated by being told that there are certain places that he cannot enter because of his colour. “…no …hotel keepers would make it a waste.” The word waste implies that he would be wasting time, effort and money if he cannot enjoy a trip that he pays for.
In stanza three, he wishes that “life wouldn’t spend [him] out opposing”. (Metaphor) We have two choices when confronted with injustice, either to accept the unfair treatment quietly, or to oppose it. Clearly he will not accept and so he is hoping for a life in the future where there is justice and equality for all so that he will have no need to oppose. A person who is spent is a person who is tired. He wants to do productive things with his life; he does not want to spend his life fighting for rights that should be his without any effort on his part.
As a human being he is made with the ability to literally stand upright, but he wants to do more than the average human being, he will not be satisfied with mediocrity, he wants to excel. Note the metaphorical use of “stretch”. He admires Paul Robeson as an example of an African American who stretched metaphorically. Robeson excelled in several areas of his life. He was an outstanding scholar, actor, singer and activist for peace, racial justice and improved labour relations – hence the allusion to Robeson. “My inside eye a sun” (metaphor) speaks of his desire for brilliance, perception and understanding. If he does not have these qualities, he fears he will not be able to influence anyone into changing the status quo (the way things are). “Nobody wants to say hello to nasty answers.”
Stanza four begins with another important allusion. “Torch throwers of night” and the wish that “plotters in pyjamas would pray for themselves” (alliteration) are a clear reference to the nefarious (evil) activities of members of the Ku Klux Klan, some of whom actually claimed that in terrorizing black people and those who sympathized with them, by arson, torture and murder, they were carrying out God’s will.
The boy wishes that Klan members would “burn lights for decent times” (metaphor). Instead of committing acts of terror, he would like them to use their energies to let their light shine by promoting acts of decency that would make the world a better place. (Note that light is a symbol for Jesus and for Christian values.) He also wants them to pray for themselves. The stanza ends with his longing to be truly integrated into the society as people treat him like an alien, “as if I dropped from Mars”. (Simile)
Perhaps stanza five evokes our sympathy more than any of the other stanzas. Here we see a child who is vulnerable because parents who should be protecting their children cannot fulfil this important role. Although they put up a façade (a pretense) of confidence (bravados) in front of their children, they too are scared. The boy knows it and so he makes the anguished lament: “I could suffer. / I could suffer a big big lot. / I wish nobody would want to earn / the terrible burden I can suffer.” (repetition) His final wish expressed in the last two lines of the poem shows that the boy has a social conscience. He is not only concerned about himself, but he cares about all people.
The poem explores themes of Race, Freedom, Justice, Equality, Childhood, Dreams and aspirations and Religion.
The tone is reflective as the boy repeatedly expresses a longing for the things that will make his society a better place and make him safe and happy. He never demonstrates anger or resentment although slight sarcasm may be detected in: “Wish plotters in pyjamas would pray for themselves.”(lines 24 -25) There is also the element of fear and despair in his tone in the last stanza.
A mood of anxiety permeates the poem.
The poet’s language and style reflect convincingly the way a child’s thoughts might flow. This is done through the use of repetition. This is not only seen in the frequency with which he uses the words “I wish”. Please also note the repetition of and in lines 9 and 10). Note also the deliberate childish simplicity in the expression “nasty answers”.
The poetic devices include Repetition, Metaphor, Simile, Alliteration and Allusion. These have been pointed out to you in the CONTENT section of this lesson. Please study them and say how they add to your appreciation of the poem.
It is the Constant Image of your Face
The persona reflects on the image of some-one he cares for. This love interest accused him, with their eyes, of breaking their heart. The persona admits that both of them (he and the love interest) can make no excuses for his behaviour because the love interest does not take precedence over his land, or country. Despite this fact, the persona begs for mercy, pleading guilty for being seduced by his love interest’s beauty. This person protects him dearly and he admits that, as a result of this, he has committed treason against his country. He hopes that his country, his other dearest love, will pardon him because he loves both his country and his love interest.
Lines 4, 6-7: The love interest’s eyes constantly accuse and convict the persona. This device highlights the extent to which the persona has hurt this person. Lines 18-20: The persona hopes that his country, his other dearest love, will forgive him for the treasonous act of loving another. This highlights the patriotism that defines the persona’s relationship to his country.
The term heart’s-treachery implies that the heart, something so vital and indicative of love, has committed a terrible crime. It highlights the heartbreak that the persona has caused his love interest.
IMPORTANT WORD/ PHRASES
(a) ‘constant image’
This implies that the persona constantly, or always, remembers his love interest’s face. It emphasizes the guilt he feels in relation to this person.
The love interest’s eyes display grave attention. The word grave implies intensely serious, so this person is truly hurt.
(c) ‘World of knives’
A knife inflicts pain and destroys. The persona, therefore, is identifying his world with causing pain.
(d) ‘such blackmail with your beauty’
To blackmail someone is to have something over them that puts their will in your control. The love interest’s beauty has captivated the persona in such a way that he betrays his country with this person.
The mood of the poem is reflective. The persona is thinking about his two loves and how he is torn between them.
The tone of the poem is sadness and guilt. The persona is guilt ridden over this love triangle and sadness permeates the words that he uses to describe it.
Love, guilt, patriotism, places and desires/ dreams
“The poems ‘it is the constant Image of your Face’ and Dreaming Black Boy’ are cinfessions of hopes and desires”. (a) Outline the hopes and desires that are portrayed in EACH poem. ( 8 marks) (b) Discuss the poem which you find more appealing and use evidence from the text to support your choice. ( 8 marks) (c) For EACH poem, discuss ONE device which is used to portray hopes OR desires. ( 9 marks)