Character analysis- The Lion And The Jewel

A convenient fact sheet for all the major characters.

Baroka:

  • Is the chief of the village of Ilujinle, called the Bale
  • Is the titular “lion” in that he is strong and is seemingly the epitome of masculinity in the village.
  • Has multiple wives and has his sights set on Sidi, the village belle; he wants to make her his next conquest
  • Represents the traditional values and ideals of African society, as a foil to Lakunle the europhile schoolteacher.
  • Is cunning and clever, employing deception and bribery to get what he wants
  • Is accustomed to and enjoys his current lifestyle and is as a result opposed to progressive action such as the building of a railway line.
  • Feels slighted when his photograph is not as prominently displayed as Sidi’s in the traveller’s magazine.
  • Is proud.

Sidi

  • Is the village belle, the most beautiful girl in Ilujinle, the titular “Jewel”
  • Is young and free-spirited
  • Is influenced both by traditional beliefs and more modern ways of life, taught to her by Lakunle
  • Becomes exceedingly vain after she is “discovered” by the traveller and photographed for his book, her face occupying 3 pages of the entire spread.
  • This vanity eventually leads her to reject an offer to dine with the Bale, and later on causes her to parade her looks before him under the false impression that he was impotent.  This later results in her being seduced by Baroka and becoming his newest wife.
  • Is perceptive, as seen when she rejects Baroka because she knows he is only making advances toward her because she is famous.
  • Tolerates Lakunle’s advances toward her but often ridicules him for his peculiar habits and odd way of speaking.  She believes he should pay her bride price if he wishes to marry her; since he does not she assumes he is not serious.

Lakunle

  • Is the village schoolteacher.
  • Is enamored with ideas of progress and colonization brought by European settlers.
  • Is a misfit in the village because of how he dresses, in a European style suit rather traditional African clothing, and how he speaks, using complex diction and a distinctly English way of speaking.
  • Represents a caricature of the African who blindly copies European ways without fully understanding them
  • Is hopelessly in love with Sidi and makes advances toward her regularly, even though he is often the butt of her jokes.
  • Seems unsure of what he wants to be, evidenced by his inconsistency in declaring what he believes.  We can see his Eurocentric facade slip when he speaks enviously of Baroka, seemingly wishing to emulate his lavish traditional lifestyle.
  • Looks down upon and rejects traditional African values/ traditions
  • Is often ridiculed by the women in the play as he is seemingly the polar opposite of Baroka with respect to masculinity and reputation.

 Sadiku

  • Is Baroka’s senior wife
  • Is cunning, much like Baroka however she seems to revel in her husbands supposed impotency.
  • Encourages Sidi to goad Baroka after she assumes that he is impotent, falling for his trick
  • Acts as a go-between for Baroka, inviting Sidi to dine with him

©Rajini Coore 2016

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