What is ironic about Sidi's choice of husband?

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

At the beginning of the play, Sidi learns that her image is throughout an entire magazine, and there is only one small picture of Baroka that occupies a corner of a page. She immediately becomes conceited and begins to make fun of Baroka for being old and less popular than her. When Sadiku asks Sidi if she will become the Bale's next wife, Sidi tells her that Baroka is jealous and then mentions that Baroka's skin looks like a leather saddle. She compares herself to a jewel and says, "...he is the hind-quarters of a lion!" (Soyinka 23). Sidi goes on to mention that Baroka has a bad reputation for deceiving women and convincing them to sleep with him, which is why she refuses to initially attend his feast.

After Sidi hears the rumor that Baroka is impotent, she decides to visit his palace so she can mock him to his face. However, Baroka deceptively woos Sidi by showing her a machine that makes stamps and promising Sidi that her image will be on every stamp leaving Ilujinle. After taking Sidi's virginity, she has a choice to either marry Lakunle without receiving a bride-price or become Baroka's next wife. Sidi chooses to become Baroka's next wife and asks Lakunle, "Why, did you think that after him, I could endure the touch of another man? I who have felt the strength, the perpetual youthful zest of the panther of the trees?" (Soyinka 63). Sidi's decision to marry Baroka is ironic because she marries him for his "youthful zest" and masculinity. These were qualities which Sidi used to ridicule the Bale for not having. After sleeping with Baroka, her perspective about the Bale's age and masculinity changes. She now sees him as powerful and manly, instead of old and unattractive.

Read the study guide:
The Lion and the Jewel

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