So Long a Letter Short Essay - Answer Key

Mariama Ba
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1. Why does the narrator rush to the hospital and what does she find?

The narrator finds her husband, Modou has died. Mawdo, the doctor (and Modou's friend), tells her that Modou had suffered a heart attack in his office and could not be resuscitated.

2. How does the narrator react to Modou's death?

After hearing the news, the devastated narrator can barely stand on her legs, yet she tries to remain dignified and listen to grief-stricken Dr. Mawdo Bw discuss the mysteries of birth and death.

3. What tradition surrounding her husband's death does the narrator dislike and why?

The narrator's co-wife is staying with her during this time as is the tradition. The narrator is not happy about it because she was not in favor of her husband marrying a second wife.

4. Discuss the ritual of taking down the hair.

Their sisters-in-law have to take down both of the wives' hair. This, as the narrator explains, is a test feared by Senegalese women, because no in-law will touch the hair of a widow who wasn't good to her husband and generous toward his family. The narrator complains that when a Senegalese woman marries, she becomes a servant to her husband's family, knowing that the moment will come (widowhood) when her generosity will be measured.

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