What are the mimes/flashbacks in The Lion and the Jewel by Wole Soyinka about? 

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gmuss25 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Early on in the play, Sidi is told about how her images in a foreign magazine have given her fame and prestige. She encourages the villagers to participate in "the dance of the lost traveler." Soyinka uses pantomime during the flashback to depict how a lost traveler's vehicle breaks down in the jungle, and he happens to see Sidi bathing in a pool of water. The lost traveler then takes out his camera and begins taking pictures of Sidi. He slips and falls into the pool of water, drawing the attention of the villagers. They are upset with him and lead him to the Bale in the middle of town, where Baroka treats the foreign photographer hospitably. Baroka then holds a feast to honor the foreigner, gets him drunk, and encourages him to take numerous pictures of Sidi and the village before sending the lost traveler on his way.

In the second scene of the play entitled "Noon," Lakunle interrupts Sadiku and Sidi's conversation regarding the Bale's reputation. Through pantomime, Lakunle tells the story of how Baroka successfully halted a Public Works project. The flashback scene depicts how a surveyor is commissioned to build a railway through the village of Ilujinle. After clearing much of the jungle and laying an extensive amount of track, Baroka arrives with his attendants and a young woman carrying a calabash bowl filled with money and kola nuts. Baroka proceeds to bribe the surveyor by giving him more money, a coop of hens, and a goat. The surveyor accepts the gifts, and "miraculously" discovers that the earth is unsuitable to support the weight of the railway engine. After sealing the deal by drinking some palm wine, the surveyor and his men pack up their things and leave the area.

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The Lion and the Jewel

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