2007 Student Research Conference:
20th Annual Student Research Conference

Language & Literature

Negotiating Feminism and Tradition in Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter
Megan E. Sassenrath
Dr. Hena Ahmad, Faculty Mentor

Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter (1980) illustrates women’s roles within the traditional culture of postcolonial Senegal. Despite her progressive attitude towards women’s rights, the protagonist Ramatoulaye remains tied to the social norms of her culture, which explicitly direct the actions of her life. Leaving her husband Modou is not an option for Ramatoulaye; she acknowledges that in order to hold on to her way of life and her children, she must work within the patriarchal system and remain with him, despite the fact that he has essentially abandoned her for a second wife. The novel, then, suggests that it is possible for women to gain a measure of independence while adhering to cultural traditions. Complete liberation from societal norms may not always be judicious, and in Ramatoulaye’s case, is not a viable option. To achieve a sense of sovereignty, concessions must be made for the sake of personal security.

Keywords: Mariama Bâ, Women's Issues, International Lit, So Long A Letter

Topic(s):English

Presentation Type: Oral Paper

Session: 44-2
Location: VH 1428
Time: 1:30 pm

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