Thursday, February 23, 2012


Telephone Conversation- Wole Soyinka

The poem "The Telephone Conversation", written by the African poet and author Wole Soyinka, is a poetic satire against the widely-spread racism in the modern society. The poem depicts a West African man's attempt to rent an apartment from a white landlady and the landlady's refusal to grant his request based on his skin color. The poet makes good use of sarcastic notions and Racism to convey his message by voicing out his strong opinions about the blacks.
In the beginning itself the poet is straight forward to admit and confess he’s black. But the landlady degrades him by asking the degree of his colour(how black). Inorder to defend himself, he begins his sarcastic comments by not answering her directly but begins to play word tricks on the woman. He creates humorous irony, although it is her treating the man as a lower being yet he confuses her with his intelligence. She wants a simplistic 'black and white' answer. But he manipulates it by telling her that his face is "brunette", his hands and feet are "peroxide blond" and his bottom is "raven black". He further insults her narrow minded thinking through his anger. The poet has also developed a prejudice against her. As he describes her as “lipstick coated, long gold-rolled cigarette holder piped”. This proves that poet has a stereotypical image about the landlady that she is rich, elite and arrogant.
Hence through this poem the poet emotes how the Africans too deserve dignity and respect in a racially discriminated society. He stands out for his rights and very cleverly exhibits his emotion through the explicit conversation. The three instances about the speaker's "self-confession" about his skin color, the description of the landlady, and the speaker's use of high diction in making the landlady appear foolish proves Soyinka's good use of irony and racism. Through his wit he out smarts the landlady’s stereotype image about the blacks and creates a stand for himself.

-Claudette Netto
Roll no 28


SOUVALI is one of the three stories written by MAHASHWEATA DEVI in her book named AFTER KURUKSHETRA. She is one of the most renowned writers of India who was awarded the Padmashree for her activist work among the dispossessed tribal community.
The story Souvali is about the protagonist Souvali a maid who is strong mother, depressed wife and a women living in a male chauvinist community. Her life revolves around her son Yuyutsu, born of Dhritarashtra. Yuyutsu is the only surviving son of Dhritarshtra who performs the last rites for him although he was never acknowledged as a son. Mahashweta Devi weaves the life Souvali depicting the deep sorrow of a woman who wants her child to be accepted and respected by rich society. Souvali has silent vengeance bottled up through out the journey of her life and she explodes this bitterness and anguish to Yuyutsu after he returns from his father’s funeral. On seeing him she has mixed feelings. As on one side she is very happy about her sons return but on the other hand she is dissatisfied as her son performs the final rites to the man who had actually never fathered him but ironically is his father. The son expresses his desire to go to his father kingdom. The mother reminds him that he was a maid’s son and was being foolish to do that and was just used by them to perform his father’s last rites. She tries explaining to her son the facts of life and that the rich do not value the poor. The writer crowns her central character Souvali not with gold but with dignity as she refuses to mourn like the other dasis. In the climax of the story she turns out to be a strong determined woman who doesn’t want to look back but instead celebrates her isolation by preparing the best of delicacies.
The story is well knit around ‘Feminism’ where women survive a subordinate role in the society who can’t even voice their opinions against the rich. Mahashweta Devi throws light on the cries of women who are crushed by the class system and male dominance prevailing in India. Souvali being a peasant has triumphed and opened doors to all those chained under the barriers of the rigid society.

-Claudette Netto
Roll no 28

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