Death and the King's Horseman: Giving up the Battl Essay

This essay has a total of 748 words and 3 pages.

Death and the King's Horseman: Giving up the Battle


From the Western perspective, it is hard to understand ritual suicide as anything positive
or helpful to the living. There almost seems to be no Western equivalent to the "duty" of
Elesin in Death and the King's Horseman. However, Wole Soyinka gives us a comparable
situation in Jane's description of a captain blowing up a ship to save the people on the
shore. It's a moment of hypocrisy on Britain's part, both trying to prevent Elesin's
suicide and lauding a Western suicide which purports to do the exact same thing - save the
living from destruction. It's also clear that Olunde sees this ridiculous parallel, but he
does not make Jane see the connection. Instead, he lets the matter drop, which, in the
Western perspective is puzzling. We want everyone to see the truth and explain it, and
think worse of Olunde because of his inability to show Jane what's really going on. But it
is really his own unique viewpoint and actions that show that what he does is much smarter
than our want of brute force.


Olunde's intelligence stems from thinking before acting. Yes, Jane gives perfect
ammunition to explain why his father saving his people from destruction and going to a
much better place, but that doesn't mean the best solution is for him to point this out.
Changing people's opinions in discussion might be a Western virtue, but opening one's trap
is not always the best strategic option. Olunde's education and background combined give
him a unique vantagepoint on action, and he sees that he can best help his people by
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