Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka

Wole Soyinka demonstrates the differences between two individuals, the speaker and the landlady of the apartment which he is trying to rent - Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka introduction. Humanity has the awareness to recognize these differences and Soyinka uses the racism of the landlady to show her ignorance of the situation. We realize the differences between male and female, old and young, black and white, but never focus too strongly on them to cause conflict. The central conflict of this story is between the caller, the protagonist, and the property owner, the antagonist.

The main difference between the two people in the poem is that their race separates them. Soyinka explores this is more detail as the caller has to confess to being African American, as if he has done something wrong. From what started as a telephone call about the possibility of renting an apartment, now focuses on the callers race and Instead of discussing price, location, amenities, and other information significant to the apartment, they discussed the speaker’s skin color.

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There are many dividing lines between the two people; Differences in Class, race, Gender and Ideology. Wole Soyinka also shows how intellectually different they are, irony is created by the speaker’s use of high diction, which shows his education. Although the landlady refuses to rent an apartment to him because of his African heritage. The speaker is clearly a well-educated individual, whereas the landlady comes off as ignorant.

Words like “pipped,” “rancid,” and “spectroscopic” are not words that an intimidating man would have in his vocabulary (9, 12, 23). The speaker’s intelligence is further shown through his use of sarcasm and wit in response to the landlady’s questions. Although he pretends politeness the entire time, he includes meanings in his speech. The fact that a black man could outwit and make a white woman seem foolish shows the irony in judging people based on their skin color. This again is showing how different the landlady is to the speaker.

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