So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ PDF

so long a letter

Download So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ PDF book for free. So Long a Letter is written as a series of letters between the main character Ramatoulaye Fall and her best friend Aissatou following the sudden death of Ramatoulaye’s husband Modou from a heart attack. The letters are written while Ramatoulaye participates in ‘iddah, a four month and ten day mourning process that widows of the Muslim Senegalese culture must follow. Through the letters Ramatoulaye describes the emotions that flooded her during the first few days after her husband’s death and speaks in detail about how he lost his life. She then discusses the life that she led with her husband, leading up to when Modou betrayed her by taking a second wife without her knowledge after 25 years of marriage. Ramatoulaye details to Aissatou how she dealt with this betrayal emotionally and how she grew throughout each event in her life.

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So Long a Letter (FrenchUne si longue lettre) is a semi-autobiographical epistolary novel originally written in French by the Senegalese writer Mariama Bâ. Its theme is the condition of women in Western African society. Quick tip for downloading files from the internet. To protect your computer from malicious programs, we recommended to use a VPN. For more info visit which is a website with top industry experts who review each vpn

So Long a Letter, Mariama Bâ’s first novel, is literally written as a long letter. As the novel begins, Ramatoulaye Fall is beginning a letter to her lifelong friend Aissatou Bâ. The occasion for writing is Ramatoulaye’s recent widowhood. As she gives her friend the details of her husband’s death, she recounts the major events in their lives.

The novel is often used in literature classes focusing on women’s roles in post-colonial Africa. It won the first Noma Prize for Publishing in Africa in 1980.

Table of Contents

Summary of So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ PDF

Ramatoulaye then discusses her marriage to Modou. She’s baffled as to what caused him to lose interest in her. Their early years together as sweethearts and subsequently as a young married couple appeared promising. Despite Ramtoulaye’s family’s objections, they married despite Modou’s reputation as a loaf. In her diary, she admits that they were correct, and she wonders why, despite her education, she selected him over Daouda Dieng, a more experienced and financially secure man.

Aissatou’s marriage fell apart, just as Ramatoulaye’s. Aissatou married Mawdo, a medical student and all-around model citizen, at the same time Ramatoulaye married Modou. They were head over heels in love. Mawdo, on the other hand, is a noblewoman, whilst Aissatou is the daughter of a goldsmith. The union was opposed by Mawdo’s family, particularly his mother, Aunty Nabou. Aunty Nabou came to her ancestral birthplace in an attempt to destabilize the marriage by persuading her brother to relinquish one of his daughters—Aunty Nabou’s namesake—to her care. Aunty Nabou then went about raising and grooming young Nabou. Aunty Nabou then requested Mawdo to take young Nabou as his second bride when she was of legal age. Mawdo consented because he was afraid his mother would grow upset and ill if he didn’t. He informed Aissatou that he did not love young Nabou, but that he was also married to her and had children with her. Aissatou couldn’t take it any longer and divorced him. She concentrated on her schooling, earning a diplomacy degree before moving to America to work in the Senegalese embassy.

In the meantime, Ramatoulaye was dealing with her own marital problems. Daba, her daughter, became friends with a girl named Binetou. Binetou frequently mentioned a “sugar daddy,” an older man who purchased her clothing. Binetou’s family began to pressurize her into abandoning her schooling and marrying the man for his money after a while. Binetou agreed, but hesitantly. This news saddened Ramatoulaye, but he was not suspicious in any other way. Mawdo, Modou’s brother Tamsir, and a local Imam appeared to Ramatoulaye’s residence a few days later. They told her that Binetou’s sugar daddy was actually Ramatoulaye’s spouse Modou, and that Binetou would be her co-wife soon.

Modou built a new life with Binetou, leaving Ramatoulaye distraught and effectively abandoned. Despite this, she chose to stay married to Modou, viewing her fate as a responsibility to complete. Her children objected, but she refused to budge.

Now that Modou has died, Ramatoulaye must deal with the unusual predicament of having to grieve for a guy who abandoned her. As her mirasse draws to an end, Tamsir approaches her and proclaims his intention to marry her. Ramatoulaye gets enraged by his obnoxious proposal and confronts him in front of Mawdo and the Imam. Daouda Dieng proposes to her afterwards. Ramatoulaye rejects him as well, albeit he does so with far more subtlety than Tamsir. She makes the decision to concentrate her energy on parenting her children.

Ramatoulaye’s adolescent children are exposed to a variety of new risks as a result of the increasingly dominant forces of modernity, dangers from which she feels they must be protected. A wayward motorcycle runs over and injures two of Ramatoulaye’s sons while they are playing baseball in the street. Three of her daughters are caught smoking. The namesake of Aissatou becomes pregnant out of wedlock. All of these crises are met by Ramatoulaye’s courage, composure, and calm.

Ramatoulaye ends her lengthy letter by expressing her excitement for Aissatou’s approaching return to Senegal. She anticipates seeing her friend and believes that, despite their physical differences, their friendship will remain as strong as before.

Characters– So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ

  • Ramatoulaye: The widowed Senegalese woman who, after 25 years of marriage and 12 children, narrates the story of her psychological abandonment by her husband, who takes a second wife. Ramatoulaye physically distances herself from Modou who dies four years after this second marriage. Ramatoulaye turns down two other marriage proposals, including that of Daouda Dieng. She is well educated and teaches at a university. After her husband’s second marriage, she must work a lot, since her husband cuts off family ties and financial support.
  • Modou: The husband of Ramatoulaye and of Binetou. He was well educated, handsome, and charming. For his own selfish desires, he marries Binetou and cuts ties with his 12 children and first wife, Ramatoulaye. He later dies of a heart attack.
  • Mawdo: Ex-husband of Aïssatou. After being pressured by his mother Nabou, Mawdo follows tradition of polygamy and marries a young girl also named Nabou, who is his first cousin. After his marriage with Nabou, Aïssatou (his first wife) divorces him. He is Modou’s long-time friend and a doctor.
  • Aïssatou: Ramatoulaye’s best friend, to whom the letters are addressed. She divorced Mawdo because she did not believe in polygamy; she left him a letter explaining her actions and never returned. She takes care of herself well and bought Ramatoulaye a car, which made life much easier for Ramatoulaye. Her divorce is symbolic because it represents a new life for her. She later leaves Senegal with her four sons and moves to the United States to start over. She succeeds in making a new life for herself.
  • Aïssatou: Ramatoulaye and Modou’s daughter, who is named after her best friend. She enters into a relationship with a boy named Ibrahim Sall, whom she calls “Iba,” a poor student who impregnates her. They claim to love each other and plan their marriage after their studies. Since she is still a high school student, Iba’s mother will take care of the child until she graduates.
  • Ibrahima Sall: A student of law who impregnates Aissatou, Ramatoulaye’s daughter. He is tall, respectful, well-dressed, and punctual. Aïssatou is his first and possibly only love, he says. He will marry Aïssatou if Ramatoulaye will allow it.
  • Binetou: A young girl around Daba’s age who marries her ‘sugar daddy’ (Modou) because her mother, who was poor, wanted to live the high life and climb the social ladder. Binetou became an outcast who never quite fit in with the younger couples or the mature adults.
  • Daouda Dieng: A suitor of Ramatoulaye prior to her marriage with Modou who Proposes to Ramatoulaye after her husband dies, but is turned down.
  • Daba: Ramatoulaye’s and Modou’s daughter. She is married and the eldest child. She is disgusted by her father’s choice to take a second wife especially one of her closest friends.
  • Arame, Yacine, and Dieynaba: Known as “the trio.” They are Ramatoulaye’s daughters. They smoke, drink, party, and wear pants instead of ladylike dresses. They represent the next modernized generation after liberation from France.
  • Alioune and Malick: Ramatoulaye’s young boys who play ball in the streets because they claim to have no space to play in a compound. They get hit by a motorcyclist that they drag home with the intention of having their mother avenge them. They are disappointed to find that Ramatoulaye does not get mad at the cyclist, but at the boys because they were careless to play in the streets. This shows Ramatoulaye’s wisdom in raising her children in the right way.
  • Ousmane and Oumar: Young sons of Ramatoulaye. They represent the idea that a father figure would be beneficial for Ramatoulaye’s children since several of them are still so young.
  • Farmata: The griot woman who is Ramatoulaye’s neighbor and childhood friend. She noses into Ramatoulaye’s business and is the one to point out Aissatou’s pregnancy to Ramatoulaye. She represents a ‘Spirit of Wisdom’, but doesn’t always give the best advice. Ramatoulaye and her become friends despite caste barriers.
  • Jacqueline Diack: Protestant wife of Samba Diack, a fellow doctor like Mawdo Bâ. Her husband’s openly treacherous tendencies lead her to depression.
  • Little Nabou: Raised by Mawdo’s mother, Grande Nabou. She is brought up under very traditional Muslim customs and becomes a midwife. She later marries Mawdo Bâ to be his second wife. She is the niece of Grande Nabou and the first cousin of Mawdo Bâ.
  • Grande Nabou: Mawdo Bâ’s mother, who influences him to marry Little Nabou. She dislikes Aïssatou since she comes from a working-class family and her father is a jewelry maker. Grande Nabou is a princess from a royal family in Senegal and is very conservative in her views and traditions.
Original titleUne si longue lettre

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