So Long a Letter Chapters 16-18 Summary & Analysis

Mariama Ba

So Long a Letter

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So Long a Letter Chapters 16-18 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 16-18 Summary

Rejected by her husband, Rama runs her household alone. She handles both the traditionally female duties of food shopping, and male tasks like paying bills. She moves on with her life, and tries new things, like visiting the cinema. Her grief begins to fade, and she takes solace in her relationship with her children.  Rama is delighted when Aissatou buys her a car, and she learns to drive.

Many years later, Rama tries to understand why her marriage failed, but cannot. She was a good wife to Modou, kind to his family, good with her children. She did not nag him or drink. She confesses to Aissatou that she will always love Modou, despite all the harm he has done her.

It is now the fortieth day after Modou’s death. As always, Rama says the traditional prayers for him. But this day, Modou’s brother Tamsir comes to visit, along with Mawdo and the Imam. Tamsir informs Rama that he intends to take her as his wife, now that his brother is dead. This is too much Rama, who explodes with righteous anger at the three men. She accuses Tamsir of trying to edge out Mawdo who, as Modou’s best friend, can also inherit his wife. She reminds Tamsir that he has several wives already and can barely afford to keep them fed. She tells him she will never “‘complete his collection’” (60) and throws the men out of her house.