What do pieces such as “Marriage Is a Private Affair” and the excerpt from Nectar in a Sieve demonstrate about the influence of modern ideas and modern ways on traditional cultures? How are the characters in these works affected by the modernization of their respective societies?

In “Marriage is a Private Affair,” Chinua Achebe presents modern Western marriage customs as a mixed blessing, but generally sees them in a positive light. However, in Kamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve, Western industrialization is a curse, bringing misery and death to a formerly happy family.

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In Chinua Achebe 's "Marriage is a Private Affair," Nnaemeka disobeys his father, who has arranged a suitable marriage for him with an Ibo girl, and marries Nene, a teacher from Lagos, with whom he is in love. He tells his father that marriage is different now, but his father...

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In Chinua Achebe's "Marriage is a Private Affair," Nnaemeka disobeys his father, who has arranged a suitable marriage for him with an Ibo girl, and marries Nene, a teacher from Lagos, with whom he is in love. He tells his father that marriage is different now, but his father refuses to listen and breaks off contact with him for eight years.

The effect of modernization on these characters is not simple. In the short term, it brings conflict and unhappiness. However, over the longer term, the author seems to feel that the words of his title are true, and there is much to be said for modernization in certain areas. Modern influences cannot be avoided altogether in any case. One irony is that Nnaemeka's father is always quoting the Bible, which is itself a fairly modern addition to the ancient Ibo culture. Moreover, Nnaemeka and his wife are happy together, and eventually bring his father around to their point of view. Although Achebe has written eloquently about the corrosive effect of Western incursions on traditional Ibo culture, in this case the prejudices of Nnaemeka and Nene's friends and neighbors, and finally of Nnaemeka's father are overcome.

In Kamala Markandaya's Nectar in a Sieve, Rukmani follows the traditional path into an arranged marriage. For her, modernization comes in the shape of capitalism, a large tannery in the neighboring village, which destroys her family's way of life. Although there are other causes of hardship in the novel, some of them natural, the tannery is always a blight on the family's existence, and eventually claims the life of Rukmani's fourth son. Unlike the reform of marriage customs, which occurs on a human scale, taking human feelings into account, soulless industrialization is overwhelmingly negative in the way that it affects traditional society.

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