How do we compare between different womens' interactions in So Long a Letter?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that the interaction between women is one of the most important points in the letter.  The reality is that as the modern setting befalls upon Senegal, critical choices are going to have to be made.  The collision between culture and gender is going to be one of these domains.  The practice of having "second wives" and "keep wives" is a microcosm of larger gender interactions.  Binetou Fall might protest that she is modern with her love of nightclubs, materialism, and fast cars.  Yet, it makes sense that she is fundamentally dissatisfied as she has constructed Ramatoulaye to be the enemy, convincing her husband to leave his first wife.  When he dies, she is fundamentally unhappy.  This is one example where Ba has constructed a dynamic where women see one another as adversarial as opposed to the men who benefit from dividing them against one another.  In this, one sees how the interaction between women is depicted as one of the domains where there has to be some level of choice and recognition of how culture may serve to divide rather than unify.  Discussions about gender is a vital part of this paradigm.