How is Achebe's "Marriage is a Private Affair" connected to present society?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Some of the elements in Achebe's short story are fairly universal.  The idea of a "love marriage" is still taboo, to different degrees, in different parts of the world.  Even in the most progressive of societies, there are still the generational conflicts between which young people want to marry and the person their parents want them to marry.  Another connection to modern society that can be seen is Okeke's reaction to his son's actions.  The stubbornness and the intensity of interfamily disagreements are seen in the short story.  When Okeke returns the picture of his newly married son and daughter in law with her image desecrated in a fairly brutal manner, it highlights this level of discord between family members.  This is something that is highly relevant today and while it might look different in different societies, there is a universal constant of family member disagreements representing some of the most intense of discord.  Finally, I think that the ending is something that is applicable to modern society.  When Okeke recognizes that his feud with his son is something that need to be resolved quickly because time is no longer on his side, I think that there is something there that some parents can feel towards even towards the most undeserving of children.  For parents, mortality becomes a definable end, with real and distinct features.  The ability or pressing need to "wrap up" affairs of the heart becomes vitally important, something that the ending of the story helps to bring out.  It might be here where Achebe, the teacher and educator, excels in what he wishes to bring across to the reader, especially the older one.  At some point, the intensity of blood feuds dissipate when death renders its final judgment.  In this ending, Achebe might be trying to teach a lesson.

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