Chapters 4–6

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Last Updated on February 12, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1294

Chapter 4: Dakar: Daouda-Beaugosse

In another city, three men awaken in the local union office after having kept watch for the night. Beaugosse, whose real name is Daouda, is the youngest of the three and also the most responsible. He scoffs at Arona and Deune for playing cards late at night instead of sleeping, cajoling them into waking up before the local director arrives at seven o’clock.

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Beaugosse’s reputation among the other workers is that he is both good-looking and uptight. Deune teases Beaugosse about a young Portuguese woman who has been supplying the night watch with food and coffee, insinuating that she only does so because of her interest in Beaugosse. This irritates Beaugosse, who goes out to scrub the latrines alone, instructing Deune and Arona to clean up the room before he gets back.

Over coffee and bread, the three men discuss the surprising monetary support the strike has received from local French unions, other cities, and ordinary citizens. Beaugosse is annoyed when Deune and Arona praise Bakayoko as if he were the leader of the strike. When the local director, Alione, arrives at the office, he tells Beaugosse that the Portuguese girl is preparing a roast pig for the strikers.

A woman named Ramatoulaye enters into the Place de Djouma with a specific mission: to purchase rice to feed her family of twenty. Hadramé, the owner the “hen roost,” refuses to sell any of the ten pounds of rice that Ramatoulaye requests, saying that he has been forbidden to sell to strike supporters lest his chain of supply be blocked. Ramatoulaye silently sits in Hadramé’s store for hours, but the man still refuses to give her any rice.

On her way home, Ramatoulaye sees her brother, Magibué. She asks him to purchase twenty pounds of rice for her since Hadramé will not sell to her. Magibué tells his sister that he cannot, which angers her since she had witnessed Magibué’s young son buy some rice while she waited in Hadramé’s shop. Magibué says that the wives of strikers should force the men back to work—then the crisis would be solved. After listening to her brother’s tirade about how the strike is a waste of time, Ramatoulaye calls him a traitor and curses him. Once home, she asks a child who has been perched on the communal fountain since Ramatoulaye left that morning if any water has come.

Mame Sofi rides on a horse-drawn cart in the scorching afternoon heat with two other women: her husband Deune’s second wife, Bineta, and her niece, N’Deye Touti. Mame Sofi tells her young niece that a marriage to Beaugosse would be better than to Bakayoko; because N’Deye is young, Mame Sofi believes marrying the old, already-married Bakayoko is a mistake.

Ramatoulaye greets Mame Sofi, Bineta, and N’Deye, who have brought rice, milk, and earthnut cakes back to the neighborhood. When Mame Sofi suggests baking a cake to celebrate a new baby’s baptism, Bineta replies that they have neither the resources nor the energy for such a celebration.

Chapter 5: Dakar: Houdia M’Baye

Ramatoulaye is the matriarch of the N’Diaye clan, of which Houdia M’Baye is a part. Her husband died just as the strike began, and though his other wives returned to their home villages, Houdia M’Baye was heavily pregnant and unable to make such a journey.

Houdia has nine children, including the newborn infant boy whom Mame Sofi calls Strike. Looking at her children gathered in the courtyard of their family compound, Houdia worries about their distended bellies. She instructs one of her older children to bring the water-carrier to the house.

The water-carrier tells Houdia that a jug now costs five francs, but Houdia only has two. Just as he refuses to sell a partial jug of water, Mame Sofi ushers the water-carrier inside and instructs him to pour the water into a large jar....

(The entire section contains 1294 words.)

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Chapters 1–3


Chapters 7–9