So Long a Letter

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Aunty Nabou’s Journey Symbol Analysis

Aunty Nabou’s Journey Symbol Icon

Aunty Nabou’s journey to her ancestral village of Diakhao symbolizes and enacts a kind of passage through time—particularly a passage backwards in time. As Nabou moves further inland, further from cosmopolitan Dakar, she immerses herself more and more intensely in the old customs of Senegal, and in an older, more rural way of life. Her final destination is the tomb of her ancestors—another symbol of the past, of nostalgia and tradition and precedent—and it is here that she finds the resolve to scheme for her son Mawdo’s second marriage.

Aunty Nabou’s Journey Quotes in So Long a Letter

The So Long a Letter quotes below all refer to the symbol of Aunty Nabou’s Journey. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Waveland Press edition of So Long a Letter published in 2012.
Chapter 10 Quotes

How many generations has this same unchanging countryside seen glide past! Aunty Nabou acknowledged man's vulnerability in the face of the eternity of nature. By its very duration, nature defies time and takes its revenge on man.

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Aunty Nabou
Related Symbols: Aunty Nabou’s Journey
Page Number: 27
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Ramatoulaye is describing Aunty Nabou’s journey into the interior of Senegal to visit the tomb of her ancestors. It is as much a journey through space as it is through time. Aunty Nabou’s belief (which is either created or strengthened on this journey) in man’s vulnerability in the face of eternity is in part what brings her to attempt to undermine her son Mawdo’s marriage to Aissatou. It is in deference and grave respect for her ancestors that she refuses to accept Aissatou—the poor daughter of a goldsmith—as a member of the family.

Ramatoulaye seems to respect and even agree with Aunty Nabou’s deep deference to time and the eternity of nature, despite the disastrous effects it ultimately has on her friend Aissatou’s marriage.


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Aunty Nabou’s Journey Symbol Timeline in So Long a Letter

The timeline below shows where the symbol Aunty Nabou’s Journey appears in So Long a Letter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 11
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam  Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...Farba Diouf, who is a customary chief in Diakhao, a rural town far inland. After a long journey she visits the tomb of her noble ancestors, which is located in the town, and... (full context)