The Lion and the Jewel Questions and Answers
by Wole Soyinka

The Lion and the Jewel book cover
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Who does the “jewel" refer to in the title of The Lion and the Jewel?

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Kasey Baumann eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The jewel in The Lion and the Jewel refers to Sidi, a beautiful young woman in Nigeria's village of Ilujinle, who is well aware of her attractiveness. Sidi chooses to abide by the village's traditional beliefs and practices by insisting that her future husband will pay her bride price before she agrees to marry him. Two men of the village, Lakunle and Baroka, desire to marry Sidi. Lakunle is a young schoolteacher who views himself as modern, and he wants Sidi to be a modern bride. He often does not agree with the village's traditional beliefs and practices, and he insults Sidi on multiple occasions. Baroka, who is in his sixties, is the village chief. Baroka maintains the village's traditional beliefs and practices, as evident by his multiple wives. Sidi believes that Baroka is too old for her but finds him intriguing. Upon Sidi's resistance to marry Baroka, one of Baroka's wives reveals to Sidi that this has deeply saddened Baroka. Upon learning this, Sidi visits Baroka in order to ridicule him. During the visit, Baroka takes Sidi's virginity. Lakunle is upset when he learns that Sidi is no longer a virgin but is willing to marry her despite that fact. Sidi ultimately chooses to marry Baroka, the lion.

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Gretchen Mussey eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The "jewel" in the play The Lion and the Jewel refers to the character Sidi. Sidi is a beautiful young woman who is coveted and pursued by both Lakunle and Baroka during the play. After a foreign photographer features her images in a popular magazine, Sidi gains fame and notoriety throughout her village of Ilujinle. When Sidi sees her images in the magazine, she becomes conceited. When Sadiku tells Sidi that Baroka wants her as his wife, Sidi rejects his offer and begins to ridicule the Bale. Sidi believes Baroka is simply jealous of her and wants to restore himself to his previously esteemed position. One page 21, Sidi says, "He seeks new fame as the one man who has possessed the jewel of Ilujinle!" Sidi refers to herself as the "jewel" because she is beautiful and precious. Baroka, who is referred to as the "lion" in the play, eventually deceives Sidi into believing that he is impotent and takes her virginity. Sidi, the "jewel," marries Baroka, the "lion," which is why the play is titled The Lion and the Jewel.

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