Marriage Is a Private Affair Questions and Answers
by Chinua Achebe

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What is the irony of the title "Marriage Is a Private Affair"? 

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The title of Chinua Achebe's short story is an example of verbal irony. Verbal irony occurs when words are used to suggest the opposite of what is meant. Rather than being private, the marriage in question, between Nene and Nnaemeka, is actually quite public. The topic is the center of conversation in the small village where Nnaemeka grew up and where his father, Okeke, still lives. His father and the other men of the village lament the fact that Nnaemeka is marrying a girl who is not from his own ethnic group. Nnaemeka is Ibo while Nene is from the Ibibio tribe. Okeke is very much against the marriage and disowns his son for eight years. The men of the village even suggest that Nnaemeka is in need of an herbal remedy because he is not thinking right. Likewise, in Lagos, where Nnaemeka and Nene live, the marriage is discussed and frowned upon by the Ibo women who live there. Gradually, however, they come to the conclusion that Nene is acceptable and admit that she keeps her home nicer than they do. Even the father eventually comes around and it is suggested at the end of the story that he will accept Nnaemeka's wife and two sons. 

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vnessawong21 | Student

Marriage is a union between two people who promise to stay faithful and love each other. In contrast, an "affair" is an illicit relationship between two people outside of their marriage. Calling "marriage a private affair" is ironic because marriage cannot be an affair. The story further displays this irony because their marriage is not private at all as many people are against it causing it to seem more like a forbidden love or affair.