Examine the role of family and social pressure in "Marriage is a Private Affair" in contrast to the role it plays in a love marriage.

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

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In a traditional arranged marriage, one sees the role of family pressure and social expectations.  When Nnaemeka dreads speaking to his father about his impending marriage to Nene, it is because he knows the plans his father has made and the pressure that accompanies them.  This becomes the case as Okeke speaks to his plans as to whom he wants Nnaemeka to marry, the bride he has chosen, and conveying the role that Okeke wants his son to play.  This family pressure is seen in Okeke's response, one that rejects his son's wishes.  The stubbornness and defiance that Okeke shows is reflective of an expectation that he believes his son has abdicated.  This anger results in sending pictures of the wedding returned, with the bride's head cut out of them.  The attitude that Okeke conveys is that family and social pressure, what he would call expectations, must be accepted and be the guiding forces in one's behavior.  The anger he feels towards his son is that they were not accepted.

Such demands are not as present in the love marriage that Nene and Nnaemeka share.  Their marriage is one in which social pressure is not as evident.  The couple live in an urban setting, Lagos, and are able to blend in with others, without the looming social pressure and family expectations present.  They live their lives for one another, devoid of the need to adhere to any other expectation. The story shows this as one distinct aspect of a love marriage that is different from a traditionally sanctioned relationship through the adherence to social expectations.  The role of family expectations and social pressure in a love marriage is not as dominating as it would be in a traditional marriage.

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