Compare and contrast the reasons for which each husband, Modou and Mawdo, took a second wife in So Long a Letter.

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bmadnick | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Mawdo was pressured by tradition and his mother to take a second wife. He still loved his first wife, but his mother had never accepted Aissatou and insisted her son marry someone of noble blood. His mother shames him by saying she'll never get over it if he doesn't take the wife his mother has groomed for him. Mawdo wants to continue his life with Aissatou and just visit his second wife when necessary, but Aissatou refuses to accept his polygamy.

Modou fell in love with his daughter's friend, Binetou, and sneaked about planning his marriage to her. Binetou is basically sold by her family to be Modou's second wife. Modou doesn't even have the decency to tell his wife that he's married Binetou. Instead, he sends his brother and his best friend to do his dirty work after he has already married Binetou. Modou will no longer provide for his first wife and their twelve children or to honor his vows to her.

Both men take a second wife, but one does so because of tradition and an overbearing mother. Modou does so because as a man in his society, he can do as he pleases with the women in his life.  The two men reflect very differing attitudes toward a long-standing tradition.


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