Wole Soyinka uses many techniques to convey racism in his poem “Telephone Conversation”. These techniques include repetition, use of colour, capitilisation, ellipses and satire.
The first technique is the use of repetition in the poem to convey a meaning of racism. An example of repetition is when the landlady says “HOW DARK? .. ARE YOU LIGHT OR VERY DARK?.. ARE YOU DARK? OR VERY LIGHT?..”. The emphasis in this example is on colour and the use of repetition reinforces it in your mind to ensure that you get the real meaning. It is much more effective and likely to be remembered than if the landlady only asked the question once. The repetition of the light and dark refers to the fact that the landlady can’t see a person for who they are but for what colour they are. Another example of repetition in the poem is when the author is describing the person’s surroundings. “Red booth. Red pillar-box. Red double-tiered omnibus squelching tar”. Here, the colour red is repeated three times and this is to draw attention to it and emphasize it. It also shows that in this place everything seems to be only one colour whereas is should actually be made up of a spectrum of colours. Repetition is used throughout the poem as a technique to draw the reader’s attention and make them remember what it says.
Another technique that was used in the poem was the use of colour. Throughout the whole poem, the poet has made many references to different colours. He uses words like “DARK, LIGHT, Red, brunette, peroxide blonde, black”. The focus on colour is the central theme of the poem and refers directly to racism. The poem shows that the landlady, who could represent England, refers to everything as one colour – “ARE YOU LIGHT OR VERY DARK” – nothing in the middle. The author however believes that everyone is a spectrum of colour when he describes himself near the end of the poem. He describes his body not as a si