The Lion and the Jewel

by

Wole Soyinka

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Sidi is the village belle of Ilujinle. She's very beautiful and is acutely aware of that fact, especially once the stranger returns to the village with a magazine of photographs that show Sidi in all her glory. Seeing the photographs makes Sidi obsessed with her own image and gives her an exaggerated sense of her power over men. Both Lakunle and Baroka wish to marry Sidi, but she doesn't act particularly interested in marrying either of them—she deems Baroka too old, and Lakunle insults her by calling her dumb and referring to her as a "bush-girl." However, she indicates that she supports her village's traditional way of life by implying that she'd marry any man, provided he paid her bride price.

Sidi Quotes in The Lion and the Jewel

The The Lion and the Jewel quotes below are all either spoken by Sidi or refer to Sidi. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Tradition vs. Modernity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Three Crowns Books edition of The Lion and the Jewel published in 1997.
Morning Quotes

Lakunle: You could wear something.
Most modest women do. But you, no.
You must run around naked in the streets.
Does it not worry you... the bad names,
The lewd jokes, the tongue-licking noises
Which girls, uncovered like you,
Draw after them?

Sidi: ...Is it Sidi who makes the men choke
In their cups, or you, with your big loud words
And no meaning?

Related Characters: Sidi (speaker), Lakunle (speaker)
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

For that, what is a jewel to pigs?
If now I am misunderstood by you
And your race of savages, I rise above taunts
And remain unruffled.

Related Characters: Lakunle (speaker), Sidi
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

Well go there. Go to these places where
Women would understand you
If you told them of your plans with which
You oppress me daily.

Related Characters: Sidi (speaker), Lakunle
Page Number: 5
Explanation and Analysis:

Wasted! Wasted! Sidi, my heart
Bursts into flowers with my love.
But you, you and the dead of this village
Trample it with feet of ignorance.

Related Characters: Lakunle (speaker), Sidi
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

A savage custom, barbaric, out-dated,
Rejected, denounced, accursed,
Excommunicated, archaic, degrading,
Humiliating, unspeakable, redundant.
Retrogressive, remarkable, unpalatable.

Related Characters: Lakunle (speaker), Sidi
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

Ignorant girl, can you not understand?
To pay the price would be
To buy a heifer off the market stall.

Related Characters: Lakunle (speaker), Sidi
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

It's never any use.
Bush-girl you are, bush-girl you'll always be.
Uncivilized and primitive—bush-girl!

Related Characters: Lakunle (speaker), Sidi
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

You are dressed like him
You look like him
You speak his tongue
You think like him
You're just as clumsy
In your Lagos ways—
You'll do for him!

Related Characters: Sidi (speaker), Lakunle, The Stranger
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:
Noon Quotes

My name is Sidi, and I am beautiful.
The stranger took my beauty
And placed it in my hands.

Related Characters: Sidi (speaker), Lakunle, Baroka, Sadiku, The Stranger
Related Symbols: The Magazine
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

Baroka merely seeks to raise his manhood
Above my beauty
He seeks new fame
As the one man who has possessed
The jewel of Ilujinle!

Related Characters: Sidi (speaker), Baroka
Related Symbols: The Magazine
Page Number: 20
Explanation and Analysis:

They are lies, lies. You must not believe everything you hear. Sidi, would I deceive you? I swear to you...

Related Characters: Sadiku (speaker), Sidi, Baroka
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Night Quotes

Ah, I forget. This is the price I pay
Once every week, for being progressive.
Prompted by the school teacher, my servants
Were prevailed upon to form something they call
The Palace Workers' Union. And in keeping
With the habits—I am told—of modern towns,
This is their day off.

Related Characters: Baroka (speaker), Sidi, Lakunle
Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

Did she not, perhaps... invent some tale?
For I know Sadiku loves to be
All-knowing.

Related Characters: Baroka (speaker), Sidi, Sadiku
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

To think that once I thought,
Sidi is the eye's delight, but
She is vain, and her head
Is feather-light, and always giddy
With a trivial thought. And now
I find her deep and wise beyond her years.

Related Characters: Baroka (speaker), Sidi
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

I do not hate progress, only its nature
Which makes all roofs and faces look the same.

Related Characters: Baroka (speaker), Sidi
Related Symbols: The Magazine, Postage Stamps
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

The old must flow into the new, Sidi,
Not blind itself or stand foolishly
Apart. A girl like you must inherit
Miracles which age alone reveals.

Related Characters: Baroka (speaker), Sidi, Lakunle
Related Symbols: Postage Stamps
Page Number: 54
Explanation and Analysis:

Dear Sidi, we shall forget the past.
This great misfortune touches not
The treasury of my love.
But you will agree, it is only fair
That we forget the bride-price totally
Since you no longer can be called a maid.

Related Characters: Lakunle (speaker), Sidi, Baroka, Sadiku
Page Number: 60
Explanation and Analysis:

A present from Sidi.
I tried to tear it up
But my fingers were too frail.

Related Characters: Sidi (speaker), Lakunle
Related Symbols: The Magazine
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Lion and the Jewel LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Lion and the Jewel PDF

Sidi Character Timeline in The Lion and the Jewel

The timeline below shows where the character Sidi appears in The Lion and the Jewel. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Morning
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Sidi, dressed in traditional broadcloth and balancing a pail of water on her head, walks through... (full context)
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Lakunle tries to take the pail of water from Sidi and spills water on himself in the process. Sidi and Lakunle tease each other and... (full context)
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Lakunle changes the subject. Motioning at Sidi's breasts and bare shoulders, he tells her that a "grown-up girl" must cover her shoulders... (full context)
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...that he will rise above the taunts from the "savages" of the village. This angers Sidi and she threatens to hit Lakunle, who responds airily that such a reaction from a... (full context)
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Sidi throws Lakunle off of her and asks if women who pound yams and plant crops... (full context)
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Sidi asks Lakunle where his crazy thoughts come from. He describes the city of Lagos, where... (full context)
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Sidi declares that she endured enough of Lakunle's nonsense the day before. Lakunle loudly takes offense... (full context)
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Angry again, Sidi tells Lakunle that his words sound the same but mean nothing. She reminds him that... (full context)
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Sidi tells Lakunle to pay the price, and Lakunle again shouts more words to describe the... (full context)
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Backing away with disgust, Sidi states that she hates kissing. She deems it unclean and asks if Lakunle is being... (full context)
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Sidi and Lakunle hear people coming. Sidi asks for her pail of water so the villagers... (full context)
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One of the girls says that the book surely makes Sidi look beautiful, and that Baroka is still looking at the images. The girl tells Sidi... (full context)
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Sidi asks if Baroka's photo is in the magazine as well, and one of the girls... (full context)
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Sidi declares that the images of her mean that she's more powerful than Baroka. Lakunle petulantly... (full context)
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Sidi suggests that they dance the dance of the "lost traveler." She moves through the crowd... (full context)
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...he states that the dance is idiotic and he has more important things to do. Sidi and the villagers surround Lakunle and chant that Lakunle looks, speaks, thinks, and is clumsy... (full context)
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...perfect shot. In the process, he falls into the river. The woman screams again and Sidi comes out from the trees, barely covered. She runs away and returns with the dancers... (full context)
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...villagers. He sets out a feast in the stranger's honor, and the stranger photographs everything. Sidi dances wildly and he takes a number of photographs of her. The stranger drinks the... (full context)
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Lakunle returns and Sidi happily tells him that he was a perfect stranger and should've been a jester instead... (full context)
Noon
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Sidi walks down the road followed by Lakunle, who is carrying firewood for her. Sidi is... (full context)
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Lakunle drops the wood and begins calling Baroka greedy and a trickster. Sidi asks Lakunle to be quiet, but Lakunle only drops to his knees, grabs Sidi's hands,... (full context)
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Sadiku asks Sidi if she'll agree to be Baroka's "jewel." Sidi tells Sadiku that she won't fall prey... (full context)
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Sidi refuses. She says that Baroka only wants to marry her because the stranger increased her... (full context)
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Sidi instructs Sadiku to return to Baroka and tell him that she won't marry him. Sidi... (full context)
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Sadiku finally asks Sango (a Yoruba god) to help Sidi, saying that an angry god is surely possessing her. She begins to leave but turns... (full context)
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...Baroka stopped the construction of a railway through Ilujinle. Sadiku says it's all hearsay, but Sidi asks Lakunle to explain. (full context)
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...in thought, Lakunle remarks that Baroka does have quite a selective eye for women. As Sidi and Sadiku slip away, Lakunle muses on the life of luxury Baroka leads with all... (full context)
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...if she's brought balm for his armpit and sends his favorite away. Sadiku explains that Sidi refused to marry Baroka. Baroka is unconcerned. He says they all refuse at first and... (full context)
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...failing, saying that all of them are tired long before he is. He states that Sidi would tire too, if he had the chance to show her how great age is.... (full context)
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...a magazine from under the bed and opens it to look at the photos of Sidi. With a sigh, he compares some of the photos in the magazine before flinging it... (full context)
Night
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Later that evening, Sidi stands by the schoolhouse and admires her photographs in the magazine. Sadiku furtively enters the... (full context)
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...warning, my masters/We'll scotch you in the end" and dances around the statue of Baroka. Sidi approaches and scares Sadiku. Sadiku tells Sidi that this time of victory is not a... (full context)
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Sadiku makes Sidi swear silence and whispers in her ear. Sidi's eyes go wide and she asks why... (full context)
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Lakunle enters the village center, watches Sidi and Sadiku for a moment, and then declares that the women are going mad even... (full context)
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Sidi suddenly tells Sadiku to stop. She says that she wants to accept Baroka's invitation to... (full context)
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Lakunle calls Sidi foolish and reprimands Sadiku for not being able to keep a secret, insulting her age... (full context)
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...Lakunle that his betrothed is currently eating with Baroka. Lakunle seems pleased that Sadiku called Sidi his betrothed, but he quickly corrects her that they're not technically engaged yet. Sadiku laughs... (full context)
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In Baroka's bedroom, Baroka and his wrestler are wrestling. Sidi enters Baroka's house and yells the traditional greeting. Baroka hears her but chooses to ignore... (full context)
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Sidi asks if Baroka's wives also get the day off. Baroka says that the "madness" hasn't... (full context)
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Sidi seems disappointed by this explanation, and Baroka asks what more a woman could do to... (full context)
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The wrestling match continues and Sidi remains fascinated by it, though she suddenly remembers why she came in the first place.... (full context)
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Baroka asks if Sidi thinks he's offended that she entered his bedroom without being announced. When Sidi reminds him... (full context)
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Sidi remembers her purpose again and adopting a mischievous tone, says she thought the favorite was... (full context)
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Watching the men wrestle, Sidi offers that she thinks the wrestler will win. Baroka asks her if she wants the... (full context)
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Sidi asks Baroka if he's experiencing a time of change right now, and Baroka replies that... (full context)
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Pacing and making more rude gestures behind Baroka's back, Sidi asks Baroka if he'd pay the bride price to this man if Baroka were her... (full context)
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Baroka asks if the man is rich or repulsive. Sidi says he's rich, but old. Baroka asks if the man is mean, and Sidi says... (full context)
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...bench. Composing himself, Baroka says that he knows the ways of women and he offers Sidi a hypothetical situation in which as a child, he himself learned to love "tanfiri" (the... (full context)
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Embarrassed, Sidi stops dancing when she sees Baroka eyeing her with confusion. She tries to recover and... (full context)
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Baroka, seeming desperate, asks if the man is still fathering children. Sidi says that he used to, but he hasn't had any children for the last several... (full context)
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Baroka acts annoyed and accuses Sidi of making him lose his wrestler. He sends the wrestler to find a gourd of... (full context)
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Sidi's use of "beg" seems to anger Baroka and he accuses her of taunting her elders.... (full context)
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...his life without complaint and only dislikes the "new immodesty" of women. He asks if Sidi is still behaving like a village girl, and Sidi insists that she is. Baroka looks... (full context)
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Baroka hands Sidi the envelope and asks Sidi if she knows what the stamp is. Sidi says she... (full context)
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Baroka goes to a strange machine in the corner of his room and calls Sidi to look at it. He explains that the machine doesn't work yet, but when it's... (full context)
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Baroka asks Sidi if it's too much to ask for her beauty to grace the mail of Ilujinle.... (full context)
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Baroka says that he and Sidi both have sensitive souls, and says that though they're a generation apart in age, their... (full context)
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Baroka assures Sidi that she's not dumb, just "straight and truthful." He says that he and Lakunle are... (full context)
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...drumming and shouting. Later that evening, Lakunle and Sadiku stand in the market waiting for Sidi, watching vendors hawk their wares. Lakunle paces and looks worried and angry, while Sadiku looks... (full context)
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As people pass, Lakunle continues to search the crowd for Sidi. When the wrestler passes, Sadiku greets him. After their exchange, she looks confused. Lakunle laments... (full context)
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Sidi runs into the market square, sobbing. She violently throws herself on the ground next to... (full context)
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Looking up, Sidi calls Sadiku and Lakunle fools and says that Baroka lied to Sadiku about his manhood.... (full context)
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...wish to die is cowardly, and says that his love is selfless. He stands over Sidi and says that they'll forget the past. He says what happened won't change his love,... (full context)
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Sadiku wonders what Sidi's doing. Lakunle, looking after Sidi, says that she's going home and asks Sadiku to follow... (full context)
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Sadiku returns to Lakunle and says that Sidi is packing her things and oiling herself like a bride. Alarmed, Lakunle says that there's... (full context)
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Sidi enters the square, dressed beautifully and carrying a bundle and the magazine. The crowd goes... (full context)
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Sidi looks surprised and asks if Lakunle really thought she'd marry him after sleeping with Baroka.... (full context)
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Sidi kneels before Sadiku and asks Sadiku to bless her fertility. Sadiku does and accepts Sidi's... (full context)