A Woman's Place In Fantasia And So Long A Letter

3268 words - 13 pages

A Woman's Place in Fantasia and So Long a Letter

Throughout history women have always had to stand behind their men (whether it be rules, tradition, etc.). In almost every history context, whether it about wars or people, they have almost been written by men for men. It is not even until this century that women in this country have gained new grounds for the equality that we hope will be as substantial with men’s equality. Despite women’s hopes for equality, there is always old traditions that are so hard to be break that they sometimes keep women in inferior positions. In these two novels, Fantasia and So Long a Letter ,we will explore how the women in these novels deal with modernity and the ways in which it conflicts with some of the traditions of their society.

In So Long a Letter, the main character of the novel, Ramatoulaye is coming to grips of the hardships placed upon her when her husband takes on a second wife. In Ramatoulaye’s case, we see her conflicting emotions for she considers herself a feminist modern woman, however she is still somewhat submissive to the ways of tradition. She ponders on the alternatives, yet she comes to one conclusion, to stay with her husband. Her marriage paralleled that of her good friend’s Aissatou, however Aissatou was able to forge ahead with a new life that did not involve polygamy. Armed with her education and her strong will, Aissatou did not let tradition or fear sustain her in a relationship that she deemed degrading. Aissatou is the embodiment of all the hopes that Ramatoulaye and Aissatou had when they were young, to become strong independent women who would hold their heads up high in times of hardship. Ramatoulaye is envious of her friend Aissatou who is able to cut all string of love, attachment, and fear and move onto a new life (one that is not tainted with betrayal or deceit by one’s husband). In Ramatoulaye’s letters, we wonder is there is a hint of jealousy? Or resentment at the fact that Aissatou was able to move on and Ramatoulaye wasn’t? Some type of underlying ill is conveyed when Ramatoulaye mentions to Aissatou that she knew her friend’s husband had acquired a second wife when Aissatou herself didn’t. Ramatoulaye will soon find herself in the same predicament as her friend. She cannot move on, although this second marriage pains her and she remains lonely while reminiscing of what love their used to be. It is supposed to be Ramatoulaye’s education and liberal mind that is supposed to prevent the abuses of the old traditions but when she is placed in that situation, she feel helpless because she divorce her husband. She is sanctioned by her feelings, insecurities, and the conditions of her family (she has 12 kids). Her liberal attitude is defeated by that of tradition, she will reluctantly stay with her man. Ramatoulaye writes, “to think I loved this man passionately, to think that I have him thirty years of my life, to think that twelve times over I carried his child....

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