Difficult Decisions Toward Marriage
Marriage is a social union under which a man and a woman establish their decision to live as husband and wife by legal commitments and religious ceremonies. The definition of marriage varies according to different cultures. In So Long A Letter by Mariama Ba, two of the plot lines center around the effect of polygamy: a marriage that includes more than two partners. Both Ramatoulaye and Aissatou experience a hurtful feeling when both of their husbands decide to take additional wives and makes tough decisions toward their families. Ramatoulaye compares to Aissatou in that they both valued their marriages and they had married for love but the norms and traditions of Islam forced them otherwise. From the beginning of the book, in a letter written to her friend Aissatou, Ramatoulaye Fall describes how her husband, Modou Fall, fell in love with a young woman, Binetou, and eventually takes her as his second wife. In the course of this very long letter, Ramatoulaye also remembers the circumstances surrounding Aissatou's divorce of her husband, Mawdo Ba, for taking in a second wife, and refused to be known as a “co-wife.” Aissatou chooses to leave Mawdo and Ramatoulaye chooses not to follow her friend's example and decides to stay married to Modou. Both made different decisions to take additional wives because of their children/family and Islam culture.
In the novel, it clearly shows that Modou is breaking the tenets of Muslim faith in his second marriage. As a Muslim, the practice of polygamy must share equality between both wives, which Modou completely denied. She contemplates leaving Modou but the thought of her twelve children not having a father stops her from doing so as said: “Leave? Start again at zero, after living twenty-five years with one man, after having borne twelve children” (41). The fact that she does not accept the second marriage and anticipates leaving Modou embraces a modern feminist outlook. Ramatoulaye,...
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