Telephone Conversation, by Wole Soyinka is about racism; more specifically, it is about the way people both white and black fail to communicate clearly about matters of race. The narrator of the poem describes a telephone conversation in which he reaches a deal with a landlady to rent an apartment. He feels that he must let her know that he is black: Nothing remained But self-confession. “Madam,” I warned,”I hate a wasted journey—I am African. ” This is where the lapses in communication begin.
The landlady’s first response is, “Silence.
Silenced transmission of / Pressurized good breeding. ” She next asks the ridiculous question, “How Dark?… Are you light/or very dark? ‘” The narrator is “dumbfounded. ” Instead of telling her, “It’s none of your business”, or simply, “Let’s forget about the apartment”, he offers a cryptic response: “West African sepia. ” When the landlady asks for clarification, the narrator only confuses matters further: “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.
He makes matters even worse by saying that “friction” has somehow turned his buttocks “raven black. ” This poem uses a lot of irony and sarcasm. The poet mainly uses irony in three places. The first tone of irony is sensed when the man confesses that he is an African. When describing the lady, the poet uses a lot of sarcastic language. Irony is lastly used when the man describes himself to the woman. The last line of the poem also leaves a sense of mystery in the reader. Wole Soyinka brings out a great use of irony in this poem.
In this poem, the narrator is describe being genuinely apologetic for his skin color, even though he has no reason to be sorry for something which he was born with and has no control over. we can also see that the narrator is an intelligent person by his use of high diction and quick wit. The landlady is also describe as racist. The poem reminds me of the Bible verse: Do to other what you would have them to you, Luke 6:31. If you want to be annoyed, then annoy other people, like in the poem the landlady was the first to annoy the narrator and in the end the narrator annoy the landlady.