Susan Thomas Dr.

Robert Arnold LBST 2102-H93 March 1, 2011 So Long a Letter ³The Senegalese writer, who was born in Dakar, Senegal, in 1929, was educated ±unlike many other women of her generation ±at the École Normale for girls in Rufisque. Brought up as a Muslim by maternal grandparents, she studied the Koran during school holidays. A school teacher and inspector by profession, Bâ promoted the crucial role of the writer in a developing country. She believed that the µsacred mission of the writer was to strike out at the archaic practices, traditions, and customs that are not a real part of our precious cultural heritage¶.´ This introduction tells the audience so much about the background of the writer and how her sentiments play out in the theme of this book, So Long a Letter. It sets the scene for the battle between what is the traditional method in handling duties and what the modern way is and which would be better in determining the result of a certain situation. It also discusses wich parts of tradition are truly worth keeping around in terms of defining a culture. The main character of the book has power, unlike the traditional woman of her culture, because she is an educator. Although she has this strong-will she must still recall the strict ideologies that govern her society and that the structures are still male-dominated. The theme of the modern woman struck me most. ³Modern mothers,´ Marima Bâ states, ³favor µforbidden games¶. They help to limit the damage and, better still, prevent it.´ Throughout this book, the main character, Ramatoulaye and her friend Aissatou, were strong women who were unlike the status quo. They stood up for women and the role the woman must play.

Traditionally, polygamy is an accepted lifestyle in their culture but these women were married for years and their lives were completely changed by polygamy. Aissatou was forced out by her spouses¶ aunt and Ramatoulaye, by her own spouses¶ love and adoration for a younger woman; her daughter¶s friend to be exact. Albeit the two women handled their situations quite differently, one uprooting her family and leaving, while the other stayed in an imbalanced co-existing relationship, they each accept the position of not becoming a submissive wife. These women are victimized by traditional customs but they don¶t let that ruin their lives. Aissatou works for the Senegalese embassy in America and Ramatoulaye has worked hard to raise twelve children on her own and is now on her journey to find happiness within herself. Ramatoulaye stood up for every woman. She even described the positive nature of her enemies in various parts of the book. Her fight symbolizes all the fights of women. She gives a voice to these women¶s anguish. By comparing herself to other women in the story she shows that all women have a story to tell and they should not just sit around and wait for independence to dawn on them; things don¶t happen that way. Instead, they should consciously try to unite the prominent traditional ways with that of the modern world and find a common ground amongst themselves, other women, men, and their culture alike.