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Prejudice in Telephone Conversation and Dinner Guest-Me Essay

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Prejudice in Telephone Conversation and Dinner Guest-Me

In the two poems, ‘Telephone Conversation’ and ‘Dinner Guest-Me,’
each poet uses their poetry as a means of confronting and challenging
prejudice. In ‘Telephone Conversation’ by Wole Soyinka, a phone
conversation takes place between an African man and a very artificial
lady about renting out a room. When the lady finds out he is African
she becomes very prejudiced and racist towards him. ‘Dinner Guest-Me’
by Langston Hughes is about a black man going to a dinner party where
he is the only coloured person there, like he is the ‘token black.’

Anger and a sense of humour are shown in both of the poems. In ‘Telephone
Conversation’ the African man is angry at the “peroxide blond” and is
disgusted at her for being so rude and racist towards him, “HOW DARK?
ARE YOU LIGHT OR VERY DARK?” The capital letters emphasises the
loudness in her voice, whereas, in Langston Hughes poem the other
dinner guest are not being prejudiced to the only black dinner guest
directly. Although they would ask him “the usual questions that come
into white mind.” Here they are set apart from him as a different race,
“to be part of a Problem on Park Avenue at eight is not so bad.” He’s
angry because he is still part of the Negro Problem even though he is
with elegant, upper-class people. Hughes is laughing at the white
people complaining about not being black, “I’m so ashamed of being
white,” also at the democratic process and him self. He uses satirical
humour at the dinner party by poking at establishment. He acknowledges
that “I know I am the Negro Problem” and is aware they have to be
polite about him. Wole Soyinka uses sarcastic humour and makes fun of
the landlady when he wr...


... middle of paper ...


...ws plenty of anger from Wole Soyinka
towards the artifical, white, public. Hughes also seems to be mad at
the white populace and thoroughly benefits from poking fun at them. I
think Soyinka is trying to make a point of the phony and vulgar
individuals there are and draw everyone’s’ attentions to them, Hughes
is trying to make us realise just how obnoxious some can be to
different races, likewise to Soyinka. I believe both poets succeeded,
the poems did make me consider how prejudice many persons are.

In conclusion I prefer ‘Dinner Guest-Me’ by Langston Hughes because I
enjoyed the satirical humour he used in his poem and how he made the
‘token black’ stand out from all the other guests. Although I think
that both use their poetry well as a means of confronting and
challenging prejudice that was around back in the 1900s when the two
poems were written.


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