So Long a Letter

Aissatou Character Analysis

Aissatou is Ramatoulaye’s old childhood friend, and the addressee of her letter. She comes from a rather poor family; her father is a goldsmith. Aissatou experiences similar trouble in her marital life—her husband takes on a young second wife, of noble birth, in order to please his mother—but she reacts to it quite differently. Unlike Ramatoulaye, Aissatou decides to leave her husband on principle. Of a much more independent spirit than Ramatoulaye, Aissatou decides to pursue her education. She ends up moving to America, to work in the Senegalese embassy there.

Aissatou Quotes in So Long a Letter

The So Long a Letter quotes below are all either spoken by Aissatou or refer to Aissatou. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Waveland Press edition of So Long a Letter published in 2012.
Chapter 7 Quotes

To lift us out of the bog of tradition, superstition and custom, to make us appreciate a multitude of civilizations without renouncing our own, to raise our vision of the world, cultivate our personalities, strengthen our qualities, to make up for our inadequacies, to develop universal moral values in us: these were the aims of our admirable headmistress. The word 'love' had a particular resonance in her. She loved us without patronizing us, with our plaits either standing on end or bent down, with our loose blouses, our wrappers. She knew how to discover and appreciate our qualities.

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Aissatou
Page Number: 16
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 16 Quotes

Friendship has splendours that love knows not. It grows stronger when crossed, whereas obstacles kill love. Friendship resists time, which wearies and severs couples. It has heights unknown to love.

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Aissatou, Modou
Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 17 Quotes

Even though I understand your stand, even though I respect the choice of liberated women, I have never conceived of happiness outside marriage.

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Aissatou, Modou
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 22 Quotes

When we meet, the signs on our bodies will not be important. The essential thing is the content of our hearts, which animates us; the essential thing is the quality of the sap that flows through us. You have often proved to me the superiority of friendship over love. Time, distance, as well as mutual memories have consolidated our ties and made our children brothers and sisters. Reunited, will we draw up a detailed account of our faded bloom, or will we sow new seeds for new harvests?

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Aissatou
Page Number: 75
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu

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Aissatou Character Timeline in So Long a Letter

The timeline below shows where the character Aissatou appears in So Long a Letter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye, the narrator (living in Dakar, Senegal), addresses her friend, Aissatou, who lives far away, in America. Ramatoulaye writes that she has received Aissatou’s letter and... (full context)
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...widow.” Ramatoulaye’s estranged husband, Modou, has died suddenly of a heart attack. Ramatoulaye describes to Aissatou the phone call she received informing her of the news, as well as her trip... (full context)
Chapter 6
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...Modou for the first time, while on a trip to a teachers’ training college with Aissatou. Addressing Modou directly, in the second person, she remembers him asking her to dance and... (full context)
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...to Senegal, Modou and Ramatoulaye prepared to marry. Modou also introduced his friend Mawdo to Aissatou. Ramatoulaye’s mother was skeptical of her daughter’s choice, however, and Ramatoulaye now understands her skepticism.... (full context)
Chapter 7
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 8
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye shifts her attention to Aissatou’s controversial engagement to Mawdo. Aissatou is of modest birth—her father is a goldsmith—while Mawdo is... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye then uses Aissatou’s father’s profession to discuss some of the broader social changes happening in Senegal. Aissatou’s younger... (full context)
Chapter 9
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye and Aissatou marry their fiancés around the same time, and together they endure the joys and frustrations... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
In their precious free time together, Ramatoulaye and Aissatou take long walks together along the coast and relax in Aissatou’s beautiful home. They find... (full context)
Chapter 11
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...must be reopening old wounds for her friend, Ramatoulaye proceeds to describe the breakup of Aissatou’s marriage. She explains that Mawdo’s mother, Aissatou’s “Aunty Nabou,” simply could not accept that her... (full context)
Chapter 12
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
...to heart, and agrees to marry young Nabou. The whole community learns about this before Aissatou does. Reluctantly Mawdo breaks the news to her, telling her that he is agreeing to... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Now free of her marriage, Aissatou turns to books, and begins taking her education seriously. Ramatoulaye admires this greatly. Aissatou returns... (full context)
Chapter 13
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...the marriage, which they see as a matter of God’s will, though Mawdo, evidently remembering Aissatou’s reaction to his own second marriage, seems subdued. Ramatoulaye is of course shocked and upset—suddenly... (full context)
Chapter 14
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...identity of Binetou’s sugar daddy, is infuriated, and implores Ramatoulaye to leave Modou just like Aissatou left Mawdo. Ramatoulaye’s neighbor, Farmata, also encourages Ramatoulaye to leave. Farmata is a griot, a... (full context)
Chapter 16
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
In passing, Ramatoulaye one day mentions having to ride public transportation to Aissatou in a letter. In response, Aissatou immediately buys Ramatoulaye a car by calling in an... (full context)
Chapter 17
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
...she is still devoted to Modou, despite his terrible treatment of her. She writes to Aissatou that, though she respects women who take a stand against their errant husbands and leave... (full context)
Chapter 20
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...her. Ramatoulaye is taken aback if not entirely surprised. She even feels, as she tells Aissatou, a little “intoxicated” by the proposal. Tactfully, Daouda tells Ramatoulaye to think about it, and... (full context)
Chapter 22
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye writes to Aissatou that Ousmane, her youngest child, is always the one to bring her the letters that... (full context)
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
...of her reasoning. Ramatoulaye closes this section of the letter by describing how her daughter Aissatou (Aissatou’s namesake) helps her with raising the young children, and how Mawdo Fall helps her... (full context)
Chapter 23
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye recounts to Aissatou a recent episode in which she walked in on three of daughters—whom she describes as... (full context)
Chapter 27
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
Aissatou is coming to visit soon, and Ramatoulaye looks forward to her arrival. Ramatoulaye reflects further... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam 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... (full context)