In So Long a Letter, what is the relationship between Ramatoulaye and Aissatou?

Ramatoulaye and Aissatou are two Senegalese women who have been lifelong friends. They were both married to men who took second wives, an experience that prompted them both to reflect on the social status of women. Aissatou responded immediately by divorcing her husband and leaving the country. Ramatoulaye stayed with her husband until he died, but eventually embraced independence during her mourning period. The women’s shared experiences bonded them, and Aissatou’s independent ways inspired Ramatoulaye’s choices.

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In So Long a Letter, Ramatoulaye and Aissatou are both Senegalese women who have been friends since they were young. The book is written as a letter to Aissatou from the perspective of Ramatoulaye as she navigates the aftermath of her husband’s death. Ramatoulaye explains many realizations she has about the social status of Senegalese women and connects a great deal of her identity development in this period to Aissatou’s life experiences.

Both Aissatou and Ramatoulaye’s husbands took a second wife at a point in the marriage. Polygamy was socially acceptable in their culture, but it still frustrated both women. Ramatoulaye explains that she felt abandoned when her husband married a second wife, and Aissatou evidently felt similarly and divorced her husband. Even though the women did not take the same actions in response to their predicaments, their mutual feelings about how their patriarchal society objectifies women show they are connected by social awareness and a feminist drive.

(The entire section contains 4 answers and 913 words.)

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