The Doctor’s Wife and So Long a Letter

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Men have been shown to be the prime cause of competition between the women characters in the novels “The Doctor’s Wife” by Sawako Ariyoshi and “So Long a Letter” by Mariama Bâ. This is strongly evident in “The Doctor’s Wife” from the time Umpei returns home, after completing his education. A major change is also noticed in Otsugi’s behavior towards Kae. The intense tension caused by the competition between the women characters is also shown in “So Long a Letter” when the two men, Modou Fall and Mawdo Bâ, marry their second wives. In this essay I will be discussing how men are shown to be the prime cause of competition between the women characters in the novels “The Doctor’s Wife” and “So Long a Letter” and why the writers use this element. This competition helps in developing the plots of the two novels. For example, throughout the letter that Ramatoulaye writes to Aissatou, the plot of “So Long a Letter” revolves around the second marriages of Modou Fall and Mawdo Bâ. This creates a sense of competition between Ramatoulaye and Aissatou, their first wives respectively. The competition between Ramatoulaye and Binetou to acquire the attention of their husband, Modou Fall and between Aissatou and la Petite Nabou for Mawdo Bâ is what keeps the readers’ interest in the novel. This competition becomes all the more evident when Ramatoulaye describes the formalities involved in carrying out the death ceremony for her husband, Modou Fall. When all the formalities have ended, Binetou, Ramatoulaye’s ‘co-Wife’, finally leaves. This gives Ramatoulaye a sense of relief. This occurs when she says, “Tonight Binetou, my co-Wife, will return to her SICAP villa. At last! Phew!”(Bâ, p. 8) Her expressions and feelings about Binetou are expressed... ... middle of paper ... ...ice has known thirty years of silence, thirty years of harassment.”(Bâ, p. 57) This clearly gives a picture of the mental state of Ramatoulaye after Modou’s second marriage. Again, this is the result of the competition that Modou created between Ramatoulaye and Binetou. From this, we are able to conclude that men have been shown to be the primary cause of competition between women characters in the novels “The Doctor’s Wife” and “So Long a Letter”. This competition has been used by the writers to enhance the plot development, by creating conflict and to show the mental state of women. Thus the novels make reading interesting for the readers. Bibliography • Ariyoshi, Sawako. The Doctor’s Wife. Trans. Wakako Hironaka and Ann Siller Kostant. Tokyo: Kodansha Int. 2003. • Bâ, Mariama. So Long a Letter. Trans. Modupé Bodé-Thomas. London: Heinemann, 1989. Print.

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