Ramatoulaye remembers with fondness her and Aissatou’s French—which is to say, white—schoolteacher. All of her students came from different cultures within French West Africa, and she treated them all equally, and instilled universal moral values in them, lifting them out of the “bog of tradition, superstition, and custom.”
The acceptance offered to Ramatoulaye by her schoolteacher stands in contrast to the alienation Modou felt in France. Ramatoulaye’s admiration for the teacher demonstrates a certain optimism—a faith that education and progress do not have to include the indignity and erasure of forced assimilation into the culture of the oppressor.
Ramatoulaye wonders why, despite her education, she chose Modou over Daouda Dieng, an intelligent, mature, wealthy doctor who tried unsuccessfully to court her. She rejected him against the wishes of her parents, who saw Daouda as the more stable, practical option.
At the time, Ramatoulaye’s rejection of Daouda was in some sense an expression of empowerment and a rejection of tradition. But now she wonders whether accepting a more practical option might have ultimately offered her greater freedoms in the long run.