Alex Crouch Global Connections So Long a Letter Microtheme So Long a Letter is a story about the life of a woman named

Ramatoulaye living in Senegal. Ramatoulaye and those close to her including her best friend, Aissatou, face the struggles that are common growing up in Africa in this time period. One of the most interesting dilemmas that this novel sheds light on is the institution of marriage and how that fits into the framework of traditional African life meshed with modern themes. It was commonplace in traditional African life for the man to take multiple wives for himself in marriage. However, it becomes clear in So Long a Letter that the general sentiment surrounding polygamy is shifting, and this particular story is placed directly in the midst of this flux. Aissatou lived as the only wife to her husband Mawdo Ba for quite some time. However, years into their marriage, Mawdo took another younger woman as his second wife. Aissatou was outraged by her husband s actions and decided that she would not put up with being one of his wives, so she left to live on her own. In contrast, Ramatoulaye was married to her husband Modou Fall, who like Mawdo Ba, also took for himself a second wife who was much younger. However, Ramatoulaye chose to react much differently than her friend by remaining faithful to her husband and not seeking a divorce. We can see society here becoming more accepting of wives decisions to refuse to be one of many. There were still definite taboos surrounding the act of leaving one s husband, but it was certainly far more acceptable than it would have been in the past. I think another very telling portion of the story surrounding

society s perception of marriage was the conversation between Ramatoulaye and her eldest daughter who was pregnant and in a serious relationship with her boyfriend. Ramatoulaye saw in the young couple a love and equality that she longed for in her own marriage. She recognized a quality that existed in this young relationship that represented an example of how relationships ought to be. And yet she was worried for her daughter because when they spoke of marriage, her daughter said that marriage was just an agreement between two people, and if one is no longer happy with the relationship, then why should they both have to suffer through remaining together. Ramatoulaye embraced certain aspects of the modernization of marriage and an increased position of power for the woman in this domain, but yet she resisted other aspects, like the sense that marriage is less binding than previously.