So Long a Letter


Mariama Bâ

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So Long a Letter: Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Ramatoulaye compares and contrasts Nabou and Binetou. Nabou is full of poise and tact, thanks in part to Aunty Nabou’s intense involvement in her moral education. Her job at a maternity home is difficult and often frustrating, but Nabou is a fighter, and in this way Ramatoulaye sees her as a kindred spirit. In contrast, Ramatoulaye feels a kind of pity for Binetou. Trapped in a marriage she never wanted, Binetou can tolerate her life only by making Modou dye his hair, dress younger than his age, and lavish money on her. Some of Ramatoulaye’s friends, horrified by Modou’s behavior, suggest that she stage a supernatural intervention, using love potions or spiritual mediums to break up the marriage. However, Ramatoulaye rejects these suggestions as irrational.
Whereas Ramatoulaye feels a kind of parallel feeling toward Nabou—they are both working women struggling to reconcile their home life with their working life—she feels something closer to a maternal feeling toward Binetou. Ramatoulaye’s rejection of her friends’ suggestions constitutes a rejection of the old ways, a rejection of superstition in favor of a kind of brutal and resigned rationalism.
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Instead, Ramatoulaye resolves to “look reality in the face.” As she explains, reality consists of Lady Mother-in-Law (Binetou’s mother) living a pampered, “gilded” life on Modou’s dime. It also consists of the odd couple, Modou and Binetou, going to nightclubs and dancing awkwardly, to everyone else’s delight and embarrassment.
Neither Binetou nor her mother are seemingly at all interested in Modou; they are only interested in his money.
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