So Long a Letter


Mariama Bâ

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So Long a Letter: Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

The mirasse also demands that Ramatoulaye and her family-in-law meet to “strip” Modou and reveal the secrets he kept during his lifetime. Mostly this involves laying bare his financial debts. It is then revealed that the chic villa in which Modou had been living with Binetou and Binetou’s mother was acquired on a bank loan originally granted to both Modou and Ramatoulaye. Even though the deed has Modou’s name on it, Ramatoulaye essentially helped pay for the house. However, Modou’s lavish treatment of Binetou and her mother—he paid for their pilgrimage to Mecca, bought them cars, and, to Ramatoulaye’s horror, provided Binetou with a monthly allowance after pulling her out of school— has led the two to think that they are guaranteed the house. It seems also that they have begun fraudulently removing furniture from the house, even before the estate is settled.
It becomes clear that Modou has used his privileged position to exploit Ramatoulaye’s financial independence. His family intends to prolong this exploitation into the future, and it doesn’t seem like there is much Ramatoulaye can do about it. Ramatoulaye’s horror at Binetou’s removal from school establishes Ramatoulaye as someone who cares deeply about education, particularly for young women, and once more illustrates her conflicted maternal feeling toward her young co-wife.
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