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 is the conflict in The Lion and the Jewel?

Quick answer:

In The Lion and the Jewel, the main conflict is the competition between Lakunle and Baroka for Sidi's hand in marriage.

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The main conflict in Wole Soyinka’s play The Lion and the Jewel is the competition between Baroka and Lakunle, suitors who are both after Sidi’s hand in marriage. Sidi is a beautiful young woman whose photos were recently in a magazine. She is stubborn, vain, and committed to the traditional ideals of her community.

Both men want to marry Sidi, and they both use different tactics to pursue her, which escalate the conflict. For instance, the young Lakunle refuses to pay the bride price for Sidi, because he feels it is an antiquated tradition. Sidi feels insulted by Lakunle’s ideals, and she feels like he is demeaning her family and her culture. The clash between Lakunle’s progressive ideas and Sidi’s represents a deeper conflict at work in this play: the conflict between the traditional Yoruba values and Western ones.

Meanwhile, Baroka, the older polygamous suitor and the village leader, lies and manipulates his way to Sidi. Another of his wives, Sadiku, hears from Baroka that he is impotent, and she passes this knowledge on to Sidi. But it turns out that he is not, and he sexually assaults Sidi.

Despite this incident, Lakunle still tells Sidi that he will marry her, but he points out that she now cannot ask him for a bride price. But Sidi ends up marrying Baroka, a decision that reaffirms her rejection of Lakunle’s Western ideals, her commitment to Yoruba culture, and the triumph of tradition over modernity.

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