Exemplar ii for Unit 2 : Poetry Telephone Conversation by Wole Soyinka Telephone Conversation The price seemed reasonable, location Indifferent. The landlady swore she lived Off premises. Nothing remained But self-confession.
8Madam, 9 I warned, 8 I hate a wasted journey 4 I am African. 9 Silence. Silenced transmission of Pressurized good-breeding. Voice, when it came, Lipstick coated, long gold-rolled Cigarette-holder pipped.
Caught I was, foully. HOW DARK? 9... I had not misheard...
8ARE YOU LIGHT OR VERY DARK? 9 Button B. Button A. Stench Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak.
Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered Omnibus squelching tar.
It was real! Shamed By ill-mannered silence, surrender Pushed dumbfoundment to beg simplification. Considerate she was, varying the emphasis 4 ARE YOU DARK?
OR VERY LIGHT? 9 Revelation came. 8 You mean 4 like plain or milk chocolate? 9 Her assent was clinical, crushing in its light Impersonality. Rapidly, wavelength adjusted, I chose.
8West African sepia 9 4 and as afterthought, 8Down in my passport. 9 Silence for spectroscopic Flight of fancy, till truthfulness clanged her accent Hard on the mouthpiece. 8 WHAT 9S THAT? 9 conceding 8DON 9T KNOW WHAT THAT IS. 9 8Like brunette. 9 8THAT 9S DARK, ISN 9T IT? 9 ... more. less.
8Not altogether. Facially, I am brunette, but, madam, you should see The rest of me.<br><br> Palm of my hand, soles of my feet Are a peroxide blond. Friction, caused 4 Opening lines establish the situation 4 the narrator is looking for lodgings Confession indicates a sense of guilt and wrong- doin Only now do we learn his 8crime 9, which is his race. Note how Soyinka delays the revelation while expectation is increased in the previous lines The warning indicates that the narrator is familiar with this situation 4 he has suffered rejection efore Single word sentence indicates shock and a pause while the landlady thinks The features the narrator imagines characterise the landlady 9s social position 4 but he could be said to be stereotyping her just as she does him Short staccato sentences indicate the narrator checking off items around him to reassure himself of the reality of the situation Language indicates the narrator 9s feelings of inferiority 4 he is 8ill- mannered 9 while she is 8Considerate 9.<br><br> Soyinka creates an ironic distance between the narrator 9s and the reader 9s perception The use of capitals for the landlady helps characterise her as authoritative, insistent The narrator begins to counteract her prejudice with humour The narrator 9s vocabulary indicates an educated and sophisticated man, while the landlady 9s ignorance suggest her inferiority, yet she holds the power in the conversation Ironically, this is what she won 9t do because of her re udice Foolishly, madam 4 by sitting down, has turned My bottom raven black 4 One moment, madam! 9 4 sensing Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap About my ears 4 8 Madam, 9 I pleaded, 8wouldn 9t you rather See for yourself? 9 The narrator again attempts to overcome prejudice with humour, his comic timing emphasised by the hyphens. His reference to taboo ody parts is perhaps also a sign of his frustration and predictably brings the conversation to a close Again this is what the landlady will not do, and the narrator ends the poem still subservient, having to plead The poem has no formal structure, the telephone conversation itself creating the form. It moves frequently between the spoken conversation and the narrator 9s internal thoughts, providing the reader with a constant contrast.<br><br> The two speaking voices are also distinct, with different vocabularies and Soyinka 9s choice of capitals for the landlady. The poem has a comic tone in the final verbal exchanges, but the political point is completely serious. Though the narrator is presented as more intelligent than the landlady, he is in the subservient position throughout, feeling he has to confess his African origins, explain his colour precisely and plead for a chance of a lodging.<br><br> The characterisation and access to the internal thoughts leads the reader to sympathise with the narrator, creating a mixed response to the poem 4 an appreciation of the humour combined with shock at the trials the narrator must endure to find a lace to live.