Marriage Is A Private Affair Summary

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gmuss25 | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Nene and Nnaemeka are a young couple living in Lagos, Nigeria, who plan on getting married. In the opening conversation between the two characters, Nnaemeka expresses his concern about notifying his father about their upcoming marriage. Nnaemeka's father, Okeke, is from the Ibo tribe, where traditionally the parents choose a bride for their sons, and he will not accept Nnaemeka's decision to marry a woman on his own. Since Nnaemeka has received a letter from his father stating that Okeke has chosen him a bride, Nnaemeka decides to visit his father and tell him the news face to face. When Nnaemeka informs his father that he plans on a marrying Nene, who is from a different tribe, Okeke disapproves of the marriage and shuns his son. Nnaemeka leaves for Lagos and hopes that one day Okeke will relent and accept him and Nene into his life. Unfortunately, Okeke remains obstinate and refuses to acknowledge Nnaemeka and Nene because they have broken tradition. Years pass and the married couple grows into a loving family and is accepted by the Ibo members living in the city of Lagos. At the end of the story, Nene sends Nnaemeka's father a letter informing him that he has two grandchildren. Nene asks Okeke if she can send them to visit their grandfather. After reading the letter, Okeke begins to feel guilty and looks out into the stormy weather as he worries if he will ever be able to make it up to them. 

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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This excellent short story by Chinua Achebe concerns the return of a young Ibo man named Nnaemeka from Lagos in Nigeria to the countryside where he was born and grew up. He tells his father that he wishes to marry Nene, a young woman that he met in the big capital city. However, Okeke, his father, refuses to accept this marriage because Nene comes from a different tribe. In fact, as it is expected, Okeke has chosen a wife for his son from their tribe. Nnaemeka, however, rejects his father's will and shows a determination to marry the woman that he chooses for himself. Because of this, he returns to Nene and the city. Equally stubborn, Okeke refuses to accept the wedding picture that his son sends him, cutting Nene out of it as a symbol of the way that he cannot accept his marrige. It appears that no reconciliation is possible. It is only much later on that Nene writes to her father-in-law saying that her two sons want to meet and to get to know their grandfather. It is this move that makes Okeke regret his actions at distancing himself from his son and his grandchildren, and as the story ends we see Okeke resolving to make up for the time that he has lost.

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