The Lion and the Jewel Questions and Answers
by Wole Soyinka

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Describe the dramatic roles of the characters of Sidi, Lakunle, and Baroka in the play The Lion and the Jewel.

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Sidi is the village belle of Ilujinle, who becomes conceited after a photographer publishes beautiful pictures of her in a magazine. She rejects the idea of marrying the village schoolteacher, Lakunle, because he refuses to pay the bride-price, and she initially resists Baroka's advances to court her. Sidi is a rude and immature girl who decides to attend Baroka's dinner after hearing the rumor that Baroka is impotent. Her wish is to make fun of Baroka during the dinner, but Baroka outsmarts her. She becomes obsessed with the idea of having her image printed on stamps from Ilujinle after Baroka shows her a broken machine that produces stamps. Sidi sleeps with Baroka and is initially ashamed following her decision to have sex with the Bale. However, she remains indignant towards Lakunle and chooses to marry Baroka.

Lakunle plays the role of the village schoolteacher. He values Western civilization and wishes that the village of Ilujinle would modernize and grow like other developing African cities. Lakunle is a rather comical character who clumsily tries to portray himself as intelligent by quoting the Bible and using "big words." His attempts to woo Sidi fail, and his true intentions are revealed at the end of the play when Sidi loses her virginity. He now has a legitimate excuse not to pay the bride-price, but Sidi still chooses to marry Baroka over him. Lakunle's character depicts Western values which are outwardly rational and advanced, yet inwardly shallow and deceptive.

Baroka plays the role of the village Bale. Although he is old, Baroka is the most masculine individual in the entire village and is revered for his strength, wisdom, and prestige. Baroka is a womanizer who embodies traditional African tribal culture. Despite his character flaws, Baroka gains favor in the audience's eyes because he is accepting of modernization and is an intelligent man. At the end of the play, he successfully wins over Sidi, and his reputation is restored.

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