The Lion and The Jewel main character Sidi sitting in the middle of the picture wearing a striped dress with the outlines of two male faces on other side of her

The Lion and the Jewel

by Wole Soyinka

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What insult does Lakunle direct at Sidi in "The Lion and the Jewel"?

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Lakunle insults Sidi more than once: for someone who claims to be in love with her and want to marry her, he seems to insult her all the time as he seeks to assert dominance over her. He tells her early on the play that she shows too much cleavage and should dress more modestly. He insults her by wanting to carry her water bucket, implying she is weak and helpless. His biggest, overriding insult, however, is his rejection of paying the bride price for her. He has decided, in principle, that it is a backward and outdated custom. He simply won't listen to what Sidi wants and needs, which is the security of knowing the price has been paid. Telling her she is backwards and primitive when she wants the bride price shows he has little real respect for her.

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Early on in the play, Lakunle is having a conversation with Sidi and attempting to convince her to marry him. Sidi is reluctant and insists that Lakunle pay the bride-price like all men in the village are required to do. Lakunle tells Sidi that he thinks paying the bride-price is nonsense and calls the tradition a "savage custom." Lakunle tries to explain to Sidi that he wishes to marry her because he seeks a life partner and not because of her abilities to cook, clean, and fetch water. Sidi is resolute and maintains that she will not marry Lakunle unless he pays the bride-price. Lakunle offers her an opportunity to become a "modern wife," and gives her a kiss. Sidi backs away and tells Lakunle that the way he licks her lips is an unhealthy, unclean custom. Lakunle then insults Sidi by calling her a "bush-girl," an "uncivilized and primitive---bush-girl!" (Soyinka 9).

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