Image of a Mother as Presented in Mariama Bâ’s so Long a Letter

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The image of a mother as presented in Mariama Bâ’s So long a letter Mariama Bâ’s So long a letter is an epistolary-form novel exploring the female role in post-colonial Senegal. Narrated from the point of view of a Muslim widow, the significance of this work lies in the ability of the author to conflate the strongly contextual issues, such as the traditional role of women in Muslim culture, with universal issues of female identity anywhere in the world. The author’s involvement in the feminist groups in Senegal highlights the main theme of the novel – the issue of gender inequality and the struggle against it in a transitionary society such as Senegalese. However, the underlying theme of the novel is also the idea of motherhood. Through a variety of characters from different social and educational backgrounds, the author emphasizes on the significance of motherhood for all females. Furthermore, the author makes use of the imagery of motherhood analogously with other situations the protagonist narrates. The significance of the mother figure in Mariama Bâ’s So Long a Letter can be observed from two different perspectives. Primarily, the author uses the image of mothers to portray the understanding of the cult of the mother in Senegalese culture. Second, in her creation of mothers from different social backgrounds, she explores motherhood as a universal aspect of female identity and challenges its conventional notion, characteristic in her time, to highlight how western education can radically change the perspective of mothers. The understanding of the mother cult and the importance of the mother figure in Senegalese culture are best reflected in the characters of Aunty Nabou and Lady Mother-In-Law. Aunty Nabou influences her son by compelling him to marry young Nabou: “I will never get over it if you do not take her as your wife.” (Bâ 2008, p. 30). The

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