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So Long a Letter: an epistolary portrayal of social conflict in post-colonial Africa - Essay Example

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So Long a Letter, by Marianne Ba is rightfully regarded as one of the seminal works in the new African literature that developed after most of the region won independence from their former colonial masters. This novel is epistolary in form, that is, it is written in the form of a letter. …
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So Long a Letter: an epistolary portrayal of social conflict in post-colonial Africa

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This personal story is used to explore many divisive conflicts within Africa: the male-female, the colonial identity vs. African identity, modern vs. traditional.
In recalling her own experience at school, the narrator of the novel claims that “books knit generations together”1, and this book attempts to explore the dilemma of people with a divided and conflicted identity. Ramatoulaye is not an ordinary African woman. She has been highly educated at a French college; she has succeeded within the education system that supported the culture that dominated her own for more than two hundred years. The fact that Africa was involved in an often bloody period of unrest, rebellion against colonial powers and eventual civil war throws this education into a problematic context. One question that Ramatoulaye must face is whether she has been essentially westernized, and thus “spoilt” from the traditional Africanist points of view, by this education. Is this an African woman writing about polygamy or a black European woman writing about a failed marriage? It is a question that is never fully answered in the novel. The fact that it is not answered is not a weakness, but rather a strength. It illustrates that some dilemmas for those people raised in two cultures can never be solved, and that the acceptance that they can’t be solved at least brings about a level of equanimity towards them, if not contentment with their existence. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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