So Long a Letter

Modou Character Analysis

Modou is Ramatoulaye’s husband. He is a union organizer and, like Ramatoulaye, engaged in his country’s politics. At first, the two are very deeply in love, and they marry despite the protestations of Ramatoulaye’s parents. However, their love fades as they grow older. Modou takes secret interest in his daughter’s young friend Binetou. He lavishes her with gifts and money, and eventually decides to marry her without telling Ramatoulaye. After this second marriage, Modou essentially abandons Ramatoulaye and their twelve children. His death occasions Ramatoulaye’s letter to Aissatou.

Modou Quotes in So Long a Letter

The So Long a Letter quotes below are all either spoken by Modou or refer to Modou. 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 2 Quotes

This is the moment dreaded by every Senegalese woman, the moment when she sacrifices her possessions as gifts to her family-in-law; and, worse still, beyond her possessions she gives up her personality, her dignity, becoming a thing in the service of the man who has married her, his grandfather, his grandmother, his father, his mother, his brother, his sister, his uncle, his aunt, his male and female cousins, his friends. Her behaviour is conditioned: no sister-in-law will touch the head of any wife who has been stingy, unfaithful or inhospitable.

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Modou, Lady Mother-in-Law (Binetou’s Mother)
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

To overcome my bitterness, I think of human destiny. Each life has its share of heroism, an obscure heroism, born of abdication, of renunciation and acceptance under the merciless whip of fate.

Related Characters: Ramatoulaye (speaker), Modou
Page Number: 12
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 18 Quotes

‘You forget that I have a heart, a mind, that I am not an object to be passed from hand to hand. You don't know what marriage means to me: it is an act of faith and of love, the total surrender of oneself to the person one has chosen and who has chosen you.’

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

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 fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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 fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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Modou Character Timeline in So Long a Letter

The timeline below shows where the character Modou appears in So Long a Letter. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...distress: “Yesterday you were divorced,” she writes, “today I am a widow.” Ramatoulaye’s estranged husband, Modou, has died suddenly of a heart attack. Ramatoulaye describes to Aissatou the phone call she... (full context)
Chapter 2
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
The day after Modou’s death, droves of mourners appear at Ramatoulaye’s house to pay their respects. Modou’s close relatives... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Custom dictates that Ramatoulaye serve as a hospitable host to Modou’s family and to her co-wife’s family, providing them with food and lodging and generally accommodating... (full context)
Chapter 3
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
...the occasion demands. Many of the guests present gifts of money to Ramatoulaye and to Modou’s family. Ramatoulaye explains that these customary gifts once consisted of unquantifiable goods, such as livestock... (full context)
Chapter 4
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
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... (full context)
Chapter 5
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Alone again with her thoughts, Ramatoulaye becomes distressed. She wonders what could have possibly caused Modou to abandon her, not to mention their twelve children, in order to marry the 17-year-old... (full context)
Chapter 6
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye recalls meeting Modou for the first time, while on a trip to a teachers’ training college with Aissatou.... (full context)
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Upon his return to Senegal, Modou and Ramatoulaye prepared to marry. Modou also introduced his friend Mawdo to Aissatou. Ramatoulaye’s mother... (full context)
Chapter 7
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Ramatoulaye wonders why, despite her education, she chose Modou over Daouda Dieng, an intelligent, mature, wealthy doctor who tried unsuccessfully to court her. She... (full context)
Chapter 10
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
Modou rises to the top ranks of the trade union for which he works. Meanwhile, Senegal... (full context)
Chapter 13
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...lot of time with a friend Binetou; together they are preparing for a standardized test. Modou often offers to drive Binetou home after the study sessions. Binetou wears expensive dresses which,... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
On the day that Binetou is to be married to her sugar daddy, Modou’s brother Tamsir, Mawdo, and a local imam appear at Ramatoulaye’s house. Modou is nowhere to... (full context)
Chapter 14
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...about the true 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... (full context)
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...this story, Ramatoulaye resolves to confront her suffering head-on. She decides to remain married to Modou—in her view, the dignified solution. (full context)
Chapter 15
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...Trapped in a marriage she never wanted, Binetou can tolerate her life only by making Modou dye his hair, dress younger than his age, and lavish money on her. Some of... (full context)
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
Dialogue and Address Theme Icon
...she explains, reality consists of Lady Mother-in-Law (Binetou’s mother) living a pampered, “gilded” life on Modou’s dime. It also consists of the odd couple, Modou and Binetou, going to nightclubs and... (full context)
Chapter 16
Custom, Modernity, and Progress Theme Icon
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
...time goes on, Ramatoulaye finds that what her children originally begged her to do—to leave Modou—is now functionally the case, as Modou seems to have lost all interest in maintaining even... (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
Ramatoulaye reflects further on the fate of her marriage. She struggles to understand why Modou decided to leave her in the first place, and tries to determine if there was... (full context)
Chapter 18
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
It is now the fortieth day after Modou’s death. Ramatoulaye writes that she has forgiven him. Then, out of the blue, Tamsir, Mawdo,... (full context)
Chapter 21
Feminism and Islam Theme Icon
Motherhood Theme Icon
Friendship vs. Marital Love Theme Icon
...Ramatoulaye—with the help of her daughter Daba and Daba’s husband—has won back the villa that Modou lived in with Binetou and her mother. Binetou and her mother are evicted from the... (full context)
Chapter 24
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
...is at first angry—how could her daughter do something so careless, and so soon after Modou’s death? However, swallowing her anger and remembering how her daughters supported her in her distress,... (full context)