So Long a Letter

So Long a Letter Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
It is now the fortieth day after Modou’s death. Ramatoulaye writes that she has forgiven him. Then, out of the blue, Tamsir, Mawdo, and the Imam appear again in Ramatoulaye’s home. Tamsir speaks, telling Ramatoulaye that as soon as she comes out of mourning her will marry her, explaining that he prefers her to the “other one” (Binetou, that is).
Tamsir expects to inherit Ramatoulaye from his dead brother much like he would a piece of furniture. His confidence—he doesn’t ask so much as he informs—conveys a total disrespect for Ramatoulaye’s independence and intelligence, and even her basic humanity. His reference to Binetou as “the other one” might be laughable if it weren’t so horrible.
Themes
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye is infuriated by this proposal. In response, she rails against Tamsir’s disrespect and presumptuousness. She tells him that he is disrespecting not only her, but his own wives and the memory of his brother. She insinuates that he is simply after his brother’s properties, which Daba and her husband have recently bought. Taken aback, Mawdo begs Ramatoulaye to stop yelling, but she refuses. Finally she finishes, and Tamsir leaves, defeated and speechless.
This is perhaps the first time in the novel that Ramatoulaye takes a stand against her oppressors, and it is certainly satisfying. She proves herself to be more sensitive, smart, and rhetorically deft that Tamsir. Her outburst, which cuts straight to the heart of things, is a stark counterpoint to the three men’s bumbling, awkward admission of Modou’s infidelity earlier in the novel.
Themes
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon