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Telephone Conversation

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by

Hagop Bannnayan

on 18 November 2012

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Transcript of Telephone Conversation

Telephone Conversation By Hagop, Sonia, Noor Purpose: 'Telephone Conversation' deals with racism and inequality.
The main point that the poet is trying to prove is how racist some people were at the time the poem was written. A most important device which the poet has used to highlight this sense of racism, which was widespread in western society, is the telephone. This suggests that if the person would have tried speaking to the lady face to face, her reaction would have been way worse and the conversation would most likely have never taken place. 'Telephone Conversation' could be based on personal experience, judging by the raw emotions that this poem conveys: those of anger, shame, humility, frustration and rage. Tone The poems structure isn't like most other poems, it is structured literally like a conversation happening on a telephone. this gives "A Telephone Conversation" a unique feel and a unique look. Written in the first person narrative point of view. Structure Curiosity ''ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?'' By sitting down, has turn my bottom raven black One moment madam! - sensing her receiver rearing thunderclap About my ears - ''Madam,'' I pleaded, ''wouldn't you rather See for yourself?'' The poem is about a telephone conversation set in England. An African- man traveled all the way from Africa and is seeking to rent a house and calls an English landlady who completely changes her attitude towards him after he reveals his identity as a black African. The poem then continues with them discussing his skin colour and origin instead of discussing more important things relating the house, such as price. The landlady was obviously discriminating other races. It could be shown from the question that she kept repeating ‘’Are you light or very dark?’’. Content: The main theme explored in Wole Soyinka’s poem ‘Telephone Conversation’ is racism. More specifically, it is about the way both black and white people fail to communicate clearly about matters of race. Theme: The mood changes throughout the poem. At the beginning, in the first stanza, the mood is peaceful. The man is just happy that the journey is over and he got a chance to call the landlady. A lot of tension and nervousness builds up later as the man does not know how to let the woman know that he is of different race and culture and differs in skin colour from her. He is also afraid of her reaction after telling her. In the second stanza, the tension builds up even more when the man finally tells the woman that he is dark skinned. The mood of the poem then moves on to frustration as the woman keeps repeating the question ''Are you light or very dark?'' while the man is trying to focus on more important things regarding the house. Towards the end of the poem, the mood goes from frustration to regret as the man realizes that it was all a wasted journey. Mood: There are many stylistic devices found in the poem but one of the most noticeable ones are enjambment which can be found in "HOW DARK?"...I had not misheard. ... "ARE YOU LIGHT OR VERY DARK" Button B.Button A. Stench or rancid breath of public hide - and - speak. The way enjambment is used is to give the feeling that the poem is a conversation.
Right at the beginning, there is 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, the man can tell that she is from a higher social class than him.
•Alliteration: Clinical, crushing was used to emphasize the coldness in the landlady’s tone when she found out the man was African.
''Silence for spectroscopic flight of fancy'' alliteration was used for ''S'' and ''F''.
•Metaphor liked spectroscopic was used to compare the landlady's mind with equipment which was used to judge a colour.
•Pun: A pun is used in the first sentence of the poem, ''The price seemed reasonable, location indifferent''. It introduces the theme of the following poem and also informs us that things are not going to be as straightforward and easy as they appear.
•Irony: In the beginning of the poem, the African says that he has to self-confess and reveals his skin colour. He has no control over the fact that he is dark skinned, so the fact that the man feels ashamed for his skin colour is ironical and casts light on how ridiculous racism can be.
• Repetition: ''Red booth. Red pillar box. Red double-tiered'' the word ''red'' is repeated which shows terror and disturbance and is used to highlight the poet's extreme mental discomfort. Repetition is also used to emphasize the issue of racism ''How dark?'' ''Are you light or very dark?''
•Aural imagery: ''Her accent was clinical'', makes you question her intelligence and class.
•Caesura: ''Nothing remained but self-confession.'' Tension starts to build up.
•Rhetorical question: ''THAT'S DARK ISN'T IT?'', highlights the woman's ignorance.
•Onomatopoeia: ''Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap'' Stylistic Devices Wole Soyinka was born on 13th July 1934 in Abeokuta, western Nigeria. After preparatory university studies in 1954 at Government College in Ibadan, he continued at the University of Leed. During the time spent in England, he worked as a dramatist at the Royal Court Theatre in London. In 1960, he founded the theatre group ''The 1960 Masks'' and the ''Orisun Theater Company'', in which he has produced his own plays and taken part as an actor. In 1960, He was awarded a Rockefeller bursary and returned to Nigeria and studied African drama.

During the civil war in Nigeria, Soyinka appeared in an article for cease-fire, for this he was arrested in 1967, accused of conspiring with the Biafra rebels, and was held as a political prisoner for 22 months until 1969.

During his lifetime, Soyinka published around 20 works, including drama, novels and poetry. He writes in English and his literary language is marked by great richness of words. As a dramatist, Soyinka has been influenced by, among others, the Irish writer J.M Synge, but links up with the traditional popular African theater with its combination of dance, music and action. He bases his writing on the mythology of his own tribe- the Yoruba. Biography: The main theme explored in Wole Soyinka’s poem ‘Telephone Conversation’ is racism. More specifically, it is about the way both black and white people fail to communicate clearly about matters of race. Theme: To conclude, Soyinka shows the irony in the racists are in the west and only judging people by the skin colour and their mind or abilities, the african man in the poem seems to be more intelligent than the women he is speaking to yet he is not recognized as intelligent but only judged by his skin color, this also shows how judgemental people in the west are. Summary The price seemed reasonable, location
Indifferent.The landlady swore she lived
Off premises. Nothing remained
But self-confession. "Madam", I warned,
"I hate a wasted journey- I am African." Annotation #1 Annotation #2 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?"...I had not misheard. ... "ARE YOU LIGHT
OR VERY DARK?" Button B. Button A*. Stench
Of rancid breath of public hide-and-speak Annotation #3 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-
"ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT ?" Revelation came.
"You mean - like plain or milk chocolate?"
Her accent was clinical, crushing in its light
Impersonality. Rapidly, wave length adjusted. Annotation #4 I chose. " West African sepia"- and as a afterthought,
"Down in my passport." Silence for spectroscopic
Flight of fancy, till truthfulness changed her accent
Hard on the mouthpiece. "WHAT'S THAT?" conceding
"DON'T KNOW WHAT THAT IS." "Like brunette."
"THAT'S DARK, ISN'T IT?" "Not altogether.
Facially, I am brunette, but madam, you should see
The rest of me. Palm of my hand, soles of my feet
Are a peroxide blond. Friction, caused -
Foolishly madam - by sitting down, has turned
My bottom raven black - One moment madam!-sensing
Her receiver rearing on the thunderclap
About my ears - "Madam," I pleaded, "wouldn't you rather
See for yourself?"
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