One of the predominant themes within Wole Soyinka's The Strong Breed is the dichotomy between foreigners and citizens. Within the primary village setting, individuals deemed as outsiders are treated with hostility. Characters possessing the status of foreigner with Soyinka's play are primarily Eman, Ifada, and the Girl. Eman, an educator, embraces his outsider status until he incurs the repercussions of his foreigner position within the village's New Year's sacrificial ritual. The villagers also reject both Ifada, who possesses a diminished mental capacity, and the Girl, who is unwell in some facet. The juxtaposed are those native to the village, primarily represented through the characters of Jaguna and Oroge. Jaguna is the village elder with the responsibility of enacting the annual purification ritual with the aid of his accomplice, Oroge. The character that rebels against such a dichotomy is Sunma as she transcends these binary categories and exists as both an insider and outsider. Her distinctive position is made evident through her familial bonds, her dialogue, as well as through the stage directions.
The title of Soyinka's The Strong Breed denotes significance in bloodlines and family ties. Sunma's lineage roots her firmly in the community as the daughter of village leader, Jaguna. As Sunma states, the ties of blood are strong in me' (Soyinka 57), and therefore, her allegiances naturally lie with her family and community.
[...] However, Sunma's actions do not continuously resemble those of the community. While in Eman's residence Sunma “goes and shuts the door, bolting (57). By closing the door, Sunma is attempting to distance herself from the outside community. She physically disconnects herself from her village, and roots herself in the realm of a foreigner. Sunma's physical actions are reflective of her emotional disengagement from her community as well. The stage directions at the conclusion of The Strong Breed demonstrate another physical separation between the foreigners and the villagers. [...]
[...] The character that rebels against such a dichotomy is Sunma as she transcends these binary categories and exists as both an insider and outsider. Her distinctive position is made evident through her familial bonds, her dialogue, as well as through the stage directions. The title of Soyinka's The Strong Breed denotes significance in bloodlines and family ties. Sunma's lineage roots her firmly in the community as the daughter of village leader, Jaguna. As Sunma states, ties of blood are strong in me'” (Soyinka and therefore, her allegiances naturally lie with her family and community. [...]
[...] Prior to the eve of the New Year, Sunma willingly communicated and interacted with Ifada and the Girl, rebuffing the ideals of her community. In her acceptance of Eman, Ifada and the Girl, Sunma affiliates herself with the foreigners; however, her inaction regarding Ifada's potential removal from the community alludes to a remaining commitment to her village. Sunma's dialogue thus indicates a duality in her position within the village: she is not a foreigner, yet her actions to do coincide with those of the community's native population. [...]
[...] Soyinka's plot is dependent upon the estrangement between the native inhabitants and the foreigners within The Strong Breed. The character of Sunma possesses a unique status, as she exists within the realm of insider and outsider. Her position is made apparent through her blood ties, her dialogue, and the stage directions. Similarly to Eman, Sunma rejects her predetermined biological status, giving power to personal agency. Works Cited Soyinka, Wole. Strong Breed”. Post Colonial Plays: an anthology. Ed. Helen Gilbert. New York: Routledge 52-68. Print. [...]
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