The Doctor’s Wife and So Long a Letter

1534 Words Jul 12th, 2018 7 Pages
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. …show more content…
This first occurs in chapter 10 when Otsugi unexpectedly enters Umpei and Kae’s room and tells Umpei that she would like to volunteer to be tested on for his research on anesthetics. However, when Otsugi says, “Let me be the subject of your anesthetic experiment,”(Ariyoshi, p. 105) Kae realizes what her mother-in-law is trying to do and tries to convince Umpei to take her as the subject. She says, “Oh no! I decided long ago to offer myself. Please try it on me!”(Ariyoshi, p. 105) Kae and Otsugi continue the argument of who should be the subject of Umpei’s anesthetic experiment. Despite Umpei’s attempt to end the argument, he is unable to do so as it resumes intensely immediately after his try.
Even though Umpei ostensibly hated the argument, towards the end of the novel Sawako Ariyoshi makes it evident to the reader that Umpei was enjoying it all along. This is portrayed when Umpei’s sister, Koriku, tells Kae: “Don’t you think men are incredible? It seems… that an intelligent person like my brother… would have noticed the friction between you and Mother… But throughout he shrewdly pretended he didn’t see anything… which resulted in both you and Mother drinking the medicine. … Well isn’t it so?... I think this sort of tension among females… is… to the advantage… of… every male. And I doubt that any man would volunteer to mediate in their struggles.” (Ariyoshi, p. 163)
This shows how men actually the enjoy competition between women and do nothing