Posted at 12.13.2018
So Long a Letter is a story about Ramatoulaye, a college teacher who writes a letter to her friend Aissatou. Inside the letter, she identifies the suffering she has gone through in a typically patriarchal population. Ramatoulaye expresses how her man Modou decided to marry a second wife, Binetou, who was her daughter's classmate. Ramatoulaye acquired twelve children with Modou. Since they are Muslims, Modou's second relationship is sanctioned by Islam. Modou doesn't advise Ramatoulaye about his intentions to get committed. Instead, he directs Imam and his sibling to break the news to Ramatoulaye after he's already hitched to Binetou. Steadily, he stops encouraging his family and abandons them as he pays off more focus on Binetou. Binetou's parents agree to let her get wedded to a mature man because of the self-interest as Modou promised them many presents. This betrayal becomes one of the central story points and is the main part of confrontation between Ramatoulaye and her spouse. Man domination is another issue that affects ladies in Africa and the interpersonal structure of culture which to the character types is not actually justifiable. From another perspective lies her good friend Aissatou who has already established similar activities of treachery in her relationship to Mawdo. She rises up above her position and proves that as a woman she can do things that were least expected of her. Aissatou and her friend Ramatoulaye therefore share similar activities, yet they respond to them in another way. Mariama Ba therefore leaves it for the reader to decide who is right in her activities and who is not. From the development from traditional to modern ways, So Long a Letter tells the storyline of how Ramatoulaye becomes more indie and breaks away from tradition over the course of the novel through her experience and her battles to regain her life carrying out a heartbreaking battle with gender inequality.
In So Long a Letter, Ramatoulaye is coming to terms with the hardships placed after her when her man takes on another partner. In Ramatoulaye's circumstance, we see her conflicting thoughts because she considers herself a feminist or a modern woman but, is still somewhat compliant to the means of traditions. She considers the alternatives of divorcing her partner or marrying another man, yet she comes to one conclusion, to remain with her spouse. At this point Ramatoulaye sticks with tradition because it is hard on her behalf to break away from in this case. If she were to go with her modern feministic side she would have to divorce her man of thirty years and make an effort to support twelve children on her own. Her marriage parallels that of her good friend's Aissatou, however Aissatou could proceed with a fresh life that didn't involve polygamy. Equipped with her education and her strong will, Aissatou didn't let custom or fear support her in a romance that she deemed degrading. Aissatou is the embodiment of all expectations that Ramatoulaye and Aissatou possessed when these were young, to be strong unbiased women who hold their minds up high in times of hardship. Ramatoulaye is envious of her friend Aissatou who is able to cut all strings of love, attachment, and dread and move onto a fresh life (one which is not tainted with betrayal or deceit by one's husband). In Ramatoulaye's letters, we wonder when there is a hint of jealousy or resentment at the actual fact that Aissatou was able to proceed and Ramatoulaye wasn't. Some type of underlying concern is conveyed when Ramatoulaye mentions to Aissatou that she realized her friend's partner had acquired another better half when Aissatou herself didn't. Ironically, Ramatoulaye will soon find herself in the same predicament as her friend. She cannot proceed, because this second marriage aches her and she remains depressed while reminiscing of what love their used to be. Ramatoulaye's education and liberal head is supposed to avoid the abuses of the old traditions but when nancy put in the same situation, she seems helpless because she can't divorce her husband. She is connection by her Islamic prices, insecurities, and the conditions of her family consisting of 12 children. Her liberal frame of mind is defeated by that of traditions; she'll reluctantly stay with her man. Ramatoulaye is certainly going through many pragmatic problems such as increasing children and assisting them fiscally. These problems are overwhelming her liberal feminist frame of mind which is why she chooses to stay with her partner. She feels that her spouse will continue to support them and her children can go on and have an educated normal lifestyle. Ramatoulaye writes, "to believe I liked this man passionately, to think that I've him thirty years of my life, to feel that twelve times over I transported his child. The addition of a rival to my entire life was not enough for him. In adoring another person he dared commit this action of disavowal. "(12) and her bitterness is everlasting.
Although, Ramatoulaye sticks with traditions as it pertains to her matrimony she still remains a liberal and open-minded person when she results in other frightening situations. She handles them with wisdom and sternness. When Ramatoulaye's little girl Aissatou becomes pregnant, she will not shun her like custom would dictate. Ramatoulaye says after one of her sons gets back again from a healthcare facility with a shattered arm, "this is my good fortune: once misfortune has me in its grip, it never enables go of me again. Aissatou, your namesake, is 90 days pregnant. " (80) Here and throughout other parts in the novel, Ramatoulaye transcends above all that is petty and she seems to be like a wise woman, dignified, and impartial. This scenario is different from the other occasions when she sticks to traditions because she actually is standing up on her behalf child. Aissatou is pregnant and needs her mother's support during a transition from a traditional world to today's world. Her self-assurance and confidences is shown when Modou's brother proclaims that he would like to take on Ramatoulaye as a wife. Ramatoulaye explodes and laments that she actually is "nothing like a bit of currency that can be exchanged. " (74) Here she defiantly breaks tradition and holds her head up high, she'll not marry Modou's brother because she will not love him nor will she approve of just how he treats his other wives. When another love from days gone by comes and proclaims his like to her, she also rejects the matrimony proposal. She does not want to marry him and also have his first better half have the same harm that she thought; though marrying him would mean security to her category of twelve. Ramatoulaye uses her liberal minded, feministic side to beat her issues with other men. She pressed past custom even if that would have been the safest thing on her behalf family and do what she believed in.
Ramatoulaye and Aissatou are educated women who promote gender equality. They both believe women should have the same opportunities to get an education as men. Therefore, Ramatoulaye insisted that her children were to get an education before engaged and getting married and having their own children. The two women were a few of the first African women who experienced an education because typically women did not need careers and men backed their multiple wives and children. Men during this time period period didn't believe it was essential because a woman's job was to remain home with the children. Men also believed that if women did not offer an education, men could have got women. However, Aissatou divorced her spouse and finished up getting an education and employment to support herself. Ramatoulaye speaks about all her lost dreams, "How many dreams performed we nourish hopelessly that could have been fulfilled as lasting happiness and that we abandoned to adopt others, those that have burst miserably like soap bubbles, giving us empty-handed?" (15) In such a quote we're able to see her regret and bitterness at having left behind her personal dreams for a man who subsequently forgotten her and her children. Ramatoulaye, however, did not give up on one fantasy because she actually is a teacher who feels in the value of education. She feels that it ought to be accessible to all, regardless of what gender, race, category or faith. She also identifies the need for progress and modernity, but is also aware that it's not without limits of its traditions. The limits are scheduled to concerns of gender, race, class and faith.
Another era of friends that choose different paths is between Binetou and Ramatoulaye's daughter Daba. When Ramatoulaye hears about Binetou's "sugar daddy" she explains to Daba to encourage her friend to keep her education to enlighten herself. Yet she does not know that this quiet girl would soon become her rival. Binetou is the tragic physique in this novel. Although the reader might have an instantaneous dislike for Binetou, as the house wrecker, when one appears more closely as of this situation, one cannot help but feel sorry for her. She is chained down by traditions, even though she's the chance to grasp today's world and the flexibility that comes with it through an education and self-reliance. Although she actually is educated, she falls victim to the conventional whims of her family. She actually is forced to give up almost all of the carelessness that accompanies young ones because tradition retains that she's responsibilities to her mom to marry a prosperous man that provides security to bring them out of these poverty. In trade for the luxuries, such as a villa and a trip to Mecca for her parents that are the rewards for this matrimony, she sacrifices her own dreams of finding a man that she really enjoys. When Binetou is out with Modou, she can't help but notice the other younger lovers that are in reality in love. Her contempt for Modou is visible in the manner that she daringly describes her new want to Daba by phoning him "sugar daddy" and "pot belly". She actually is a sufferer of custom and her own family's greed.
Daba is similar to her mom because she is inculcated with her mother's liberal beliefs. She retains the same liberal frame of mind and is carefully disgusted when her daddy takes on another wife. It really is through her, where Ramatoulaye can vicariously seek silent revenge although she might not outright approve of Daba's activities. Daba goes to the membership where her daddy and new wife go and talks about them haughtily with disgust. When she becomes the heir of her father's villa, she instructs Binetou and her family to move out without the pity, unmerciful at the actual fact that these were the family that broke her parents up. She confirms a romantic relationship that her mom yearns for. When Ramatoulaye explains to Daba's man "that he spoils his wife" (73), Daba's hubby replies, "Daba is my wife. She actually is not my slave, nor my servant" (79). It really is through her first little princess, where Ramatoulaye's desires will go on, for she has the same idealist beliefs as her mother and tries to remain true to them. She signifies another technology of woman who is strong willed and unbiased, revoking any customs that they feel depreciate their own value.
Throughout this book, there's a challenge of the old and the new. This tale is about how exactly women influence each other's lives and how some are hindered to move forward because they're externally destined by practices that devalue women. We're in a position to start to see the quandaries that girls must face when modernity and old traditions are challenged. Both of these women remain fearless and to try to sustain their new found freedoms, despite any difficult encounters. It really is these women with their fierce ideals that could make sure they are pioneers for those women liberation activities. The novel is an excellent example of the differ from traditional ways to modern ways has turned into a custom for most societies. Ramatoulaye and Aissatou get over their personal challenges with gender inequality by subscribing to the modern way of life.