So Long a Letter


Mariama Bâ

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So Long a Letter: Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

The next day, Daouda Dieng, Ramatoulaye’s old suitor, appears. Ramatoulaye senses that he has come to ask for her hand in marriage, although he lacks the obnoxious confidence that Tamsir displayed. Wanting to steer Daouda away from the topic of marriage, Ramatoulaye begins discussing politics with him (he is a member of the National Assembly). Ramatoulaye teases Daouda about the lack of women in the assembly—only four of the one hundred representatives are women. She stresses that women should have the right to equal education and equal pay, and that Senegal has gone too long without a female leader. Daouda vehemently agrees, and claims to have given speeches before the assembly on those very issues. He concludes by saying that Senegal has a long way to go. He leaves without bringing up marriage.
Though this is exchange is certainly intelligent and mutually respectful, there is something ironic about it too. That is, Daouda has come to Ramatoulaye essentially to claim ownership over her, and yet he insists that he wants greater freedoms for women in Senegal. Still, despite the irony, the civil exchange presents a hopeful picture of the future of political discourse in Senegal (in both public and private spheres). The two speakers are energized and enthusiastic about their country’s future.
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