So Long a Letter

by Mariama Ba
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Explain the threat ”boys cannot succeed without their father” from So Long a Letter

The threat ”boys cannot succeed without their father” from So Long a Letter can be explained as a warning to Aissatou not to leave her husband.

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Aissatou's husband, Mawbo, has just taken another wife, a young woman called Nabou. He did so at the request of his mother, who claims that she will die of shame if her son doesn't oblige. Mawbo's maternal uncle Farba has given him Nabou as a token of appreciation for his...

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Aissatou's husband, Mawbo, has just taken another wife, a young woman called Nabou. He did so at the request of his mother, who claims that she will die of shame if her son doesn't oblige. Mawbo's maternal uncle Farba has given him Nabou as a token of appreciation for his mother's raising of the young lady. Mawbo claims not to be too thrilled about the arrangement, not least because he still loves Aissatou. But he goes ahead with it anyway to satisfy his snobby mother, who looks down on Aissatou as the daughter of a mere goldsmith.

Although polygamy is a common practice in this part of the world, that doesn't make it any easier for Aissatou. She feels disrespected by Mawbo's marrying Nabou. She also feels that the four children she's had with Mawbo now count for much less than they used to, and that's something she's not prepared to tolerate.

But members of the local community have advised Aissatou to compromise, to adjust herself to the new arrangement. That's easy for them to say, of course; they're not the ones being disrespected. But still they come forward with their advice, telling Aissatou that boys cannot succeed without their father.

What they mean by this is that Aissatou's boys need a male role model in their lives if they are to grow up and be successful in this society. They need to have their father around. That's why they recommend that Aissatou stays put and gets use to the new marital arrangement.

However, Aissatou doesn't listen to their advice and decides to leave Mawbo, taking their sons with her.

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