So Long a Letter


Mariama Bâ

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So Long a Letter: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

As time goes on, Ramatoulaye finds that what her children originally begged her to do—to leave Modou—is now functionally the case, as Modou seems to have lost all interest in maintaining even the semblance of a relationship with her. While Ramatoulaye did not make this choice for herself, she learns to cope with and even enjoy her newfound independence. Being a single parent to twelve children is no easy feat, however. Money is tight, and she must make certain compromises, such as making her children ride public transport, while Binetou and Lady Mother-in-Law drive around in a fancy new car.
Ramatoulaye’s resolve in the face of a fate she never chose for herself demonstrates an extraordinary resilience, and a belief in making due with whatever life has in store. Ramatoulaye does not take direct action on her own behalf in the sense that she doesn’t stand up to Modou, but she at least takes the challenges of single motherhood (multiplied twelve-fold) in stride.
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In passing, Ramatoulaye one day mentions having to ride public transportation to Aissatou in a letter. In response, Aissatou immediately buys Ramatoulaye a car by calling in an order to the local Fiat agency. Ramatoulaye is surprised and overjoyed. She does not know how to drive and is somewhat afraid to learn, but remains determined and overcomes her fear.
Not only must Ramatoulaye adapt to her newfound personal independence, she must adapt to Senegal’s increasing modernization and globalization, as represented by her learning to drive an Italian car purchased for her by her friend overseas.
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