So Long a Letter

So Long a Letter Chapter 27 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Aissatou is coming to visit soon, and Ramatoulaye looks forward to her arrival. Ramatoulaye reflects further on the fate of women in Senegalese society: she is heartened by the expansion of their rights and liberties, but remains wary that their hard-fought gains are unstable—certain social restrictions persist, and men still have a monopoly on power. Ramatoulaye insists, however, on her faith in the institution of marriage, and what she calls the “complementarity” of man and woman. Man and wife are the most basic political unit, she argues, as nations are made up of families.
With regard to the status of women in society, Ramatoulaye is hopeful but ever vigilant: she knows that societal advances for women are always fragile and difficult to maintain. At the same time, her belief in the institution of marriage shows her more conservative streak, and demonstrates her belief that family life and political life are not distinct, mutually exclusive pursuits—in fact, they are inseparable.
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 wonders if Aissatou will appear changed upon returning. She guesses that Aissatou will be wearing a suit, not traditional clothing, and will ask to eat at a table with utensils, in the Western style. Ramatoulaye closes by saying that she retains hope for her future, and that she will go out in search of happiness.
Ramatoulaye’s conjecture about Aissatou, though lighthearted, expresses an anxiety that modernization might come to erase Senegalese culture. Tellingly, the novel does not describe the actual reunion of the two friends—it only exists as an address, a kind of monologue, and any response Aissatou might offer exists only beyond the page.
Themes
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon