This idea is completely discredited by the ironical fact that throughout the poem the man retains better manners and vocabulary than the woman, using words such as “spectroscopic” and “rancid”, whereas she does not know what West African Sepia is and is inconsiderate in her inquiries.
Using irony in this manner, Soyinka proves how absurd it is to judge the intellect or character of a man depending on the color of his skin only.
Written in an independent style and delivered in a passively sarcastic tone, this poem is a potent comment on society.
Soyinka might be speaking through personal experience, judging by the raw emotions that this poem subtly convey: those of anger, rage, shame, humility and an acute sense of disgust at the apathy and inhumanity of humans who won’t judge a book by its cover but would turn down a man for the color of his skin.
They each use different styles, forms, structures, tones and language features to illustrate these points.
Business Disaster Recovery Plan - Telephone Conversation Wole Soyinka Essays
‘Telephone Conversation’ is a poem about a 1960s black man applying for a room from a white English landlady.
He replies that it is similar to brunette and she immediately clarifies that that’s dark. He disregards all constraints of formality and mocks her outright, saying that he isn’t all black, the soles of his feet and the palms of his hands are completely white, but he is foolish enough to sit on his bottom so it has been rubbed black due to friction.
But as he senses that she is about to slam the receiver on him, he struggles one last time to make her reconsider, pleading her to at least see for herself; only to have the phone slammed on him.
There is silence at the other end; silence which the black man thinks is the reluctant result of an inbred sense of politeness.
However he is wrong because when she speaks again, she disregards all formalities and asks him to explain how dark he is.