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What is the relevance of "Marriage is a Private Affair" to contemporary Indian society?

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noori69 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 14, 2012 at 10:40 AM via web

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What is the relevance of "Marriage is a Private Affair" to contemporary Indian society?

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

Posted October 14, 2012 at 12:26 PM (Answer #1)

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I do think that one can find similarities between the narrative Achebe details in Nigeria to contemporary Indian society.  One of the most dominant themes in the short story is Achebe's forced collision between tradition and modernity.  Okeke can represent nearly any individual in India who believes in the power of tradition.  In both Okeke's case and the tradition bound in India, the understanding of children is almost a blind adherence to tradition.  There is a stubborn nature that Okeke displays towards his son's decision and the path he has chosen.  One can see this same resistance displayed in contemporary India when the young decide to buck tradition and find their own path.  In both the story and contemporary India, young people do use their spirit of freedom and independence to find their own ways and there is an emergence of young people not always adhering to tradition.  Certainly, Nnaemeka and Nene do this.  They are not bound by tribal tradition, caste distinctions, or even the basic nature that they are not to be doing what they are doing.  They are modern, young, and educated.  This parallels a great deal of contemporary India, for as young people embraced the globalized and modernized world with greater education, they, too, will find themselves having to make decisions about what aspects of tradition they will embrace and what will be discarded. Another parallel would be Nene herself. She is a young, educated woman who is able to make things work, something that contemporary India is finding as many of its own educated and young women are also making things work.  Both shed tradition in the name of finding their own path.    In the final analysis, the old guard of tradition is left to make its own peace with the young.  Okeke understands that his own stubbornness could deny him a chance to see his grandchildren, something that proves to be essential to him at the end of the narrative.  Contemporary India struggles with the same reality in that the young will do what they feel is right and the next generation, the grandchildren that are seen as so important by so many of the traditional generation, will be left as the next part of the sequence.  Just as Okeke recognizes that he must make some level of peace with the young, contemporary India faces the same challenges as it must seek to do the same.

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