So Long a Letter


Mariama Bâ

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So Long a Letter: Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Ramatoulaye reflects further on the fate of her marriage. She struggles to understand why Modou decided to leave her in the first place, and tries to determine if there was anything she could have done to prevent his flight. She is sure, however, that she has been an exemplary wife and mother. Further, she admits that she is still devoted to Modou, despite his terrible treatment of her. She writes to Aissatou that, though she respects women who take a stand against their errant husbands and leave them behind, she has never conceived of happiness outside of marriage.
Ramatoulaye clearly did nothing to invite Modou’s abandonment of her. Despite her sacrifices and invaluable contributions to her family life, she is still seen by Modou as entirely disposable. Ramatoulaye’s “confession” to Aissatou shows again just how much she has internalized custom and tradition, including the idea that there can be no real happiness or fulfillment for a woman outside of marriage.
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
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Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
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