What Are The Role Of Women In So Long A Letter?

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Women’s Roles in Senegal
In So Long a Letter by Mariama Bâ, Bâ illustrates the roles of Senegalese women compared to men in a Western African and Islamic society. She uses the lives of two main characters, Ramatoulaye and Aissatou, to display the roles women played in the changing social climates of Western Africa. During this time period, liberation for women gained a large amount of momentum and Bâ focuses on Ramatoulaye’s and Aissatou’s reactions to their husbands taking a second wife. Aissatou responds in a more modern way and fails to conform to social standards by divorcing her husband and furthering her education, something that was uncommon in Senegalese culture. Ramatoulaye, however, acts with a more traditionalist demeanor and chooses
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Aissatou greatly objects to her husbands willingness to take another wife, but despite her objections, Mwado proceeds to marry the young Nabou. Aissatou felt that Mwado betrayed their marriage and all that they had together, so she decided to divorce her husband. Unlike Ramatoulaye, who forgave her husband and stayed with him, Aissatou breaks societal norms and turns her back on her husband and her Islamic faith. She then decides to focus on furthering her education motivated by vengeance. She became extremely successful and was appointed to the Senegalese Embassy in the U.S, where she permanently moved. Bâ uses Aissatou as a figure who completely rejects traditionalism and goes against societal norms, contributing to the momentum of liberation. Bâ also uses Aissatou as an example of how education lifts women up and leads them to more success just as Aissatou went on to gain a position in the Senegalese Embassy. Because Aissatou was able to make something out of herself without a man by her side, Bâ makes a point that women can be just as successful without depending on a man. Bâ puts great emphasis on the benefit of independence and individuality married women should be given in their marriage and how marriages in Senegel should focus on this …show more content…
Latha says, "The protagonist 's subjection to French colonial domination as well as the promise of liberation in the post colonial context has a complex impact on her identity and self-perception” (Latha, 2013). Here, Latha recalls that by not divorcing her husband after he married Binetou, she is subjecting to French colonial dominance, which was the expectation for all women during the post colonial era. Often times during this era, women were disempowered by men and society’s views on the roles of women. Latha then argues that this disempowerment impacts the ways in which women view themselves and affects their self perception in a negative manner. She also makes a point that the promise of liberation is extremely significant, as women can use this promise to empower themselves effectively. Latha agrees with Bâ that liberation from societal standards is beneficial for the well being of women. Linda Beck also touches on issues concerning feminism in Senegalese Africa as she identifies the roles of women in the hidden public. Beck says, “The concept of a hidden public challenges the idea in western political thought that the public sphere in which political institutions operate is distinct from the private sphere of social relations and identities” (Beck, 2003). Beck focuses on the idea that even though women may hold government positions in the public domain, men in the “hidden public” or hidden

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