The Lion and the Jewel Questions and Answers
by Wole Soyinka

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Provide a summary of the play The Lion and the Jewel.

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The play begins as the village belle, Sidi, walks past the school as the teacher, Lakunle, professes his love for her. Sidi tells him that she will marry him, but only if he pays the bride-price. Lakunle refuses to pay the bride-price, claiming that it is a savage custom. In the middle of their conversation, a village girl runs to Sidi and tells her that the stranger has returned with a magazine full of images from Ilujinle. Other girls tell Sidi that her pictures look beautiful and that her image is found throughout the entire magazine. Sidi asks if Baroka's image is in the magazine, and learns that it only occupies a small corner. Instantly, Sidi becomes full of herself and claims that she is more important and famous than the Bale. Then, the characters break into a brief mime that depicts the foreign photographer's random expedition to Ilujinle, which ends as Baroka walks out from behind the 'Odan Tree' in the center of the village.

In the second scene entitled "Noon," Sidi is walking through the village, when Sadiku, the Bale's head wife, asks Sidi if she will marry Baroka. Sidi refuses to marry the Bale, commenting that he is too old, and she also does not accept his invitation to supper. Sadiku is shocked and goes back to the palace to bring the news of Sidi's refusal to the Bale. Baroka then laments about his recent impotence and makes Sadiku swear that she will not speak about his condition.

In the third and final scene entitled "Night," Sadiku dances and sings in the village about 'scotching' her masters. When Sidi asks what she is talking about, Sadiku tells Sidi that the Bale is impotent. Sidi is joyful and plans to accept Baroka's invitation to supper so that she can mock him in person. Lakunle tries to warn her about the Bale's cunning behavior, but Sidi travels to the palace anyway. When she arrives at the palace, Baroka is wrestling, and Sidi insults him indirectly. Baroka eventually baits Sidi by showing her a broken machine that makes stamps and fills her head with the idea that one day her image will be on every stamp leaving Ilujinle. Sidi is in awe, and Baroka is able to woo her into sleeping with him. While Sidi is sleeping with the Bale, Lakunle argues with Sadiku and claims that the Bale has murdered Sidi because she has not returned. When Sidi returns to the village, she flings herself to the ground and admits that she has lost her virginity. Lakunle is rather optimistic because he will no longer be required to pay the bride-price under the village's traditional custom. Sidi quickly leaves, and a wedding ceremony begins. Lakunle foolishly believes Sidi has chosen to marry him, but she ends up marrying Baroka.

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