What is the irony of the title "Marriage is a Private Affair" by Chinua Achebe?

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The title is also ironic because it uses the word "affair," which can mean several different things. 

The word "affair" can refer to an incident or an occurrence. As the other educators pointed out, it can also refer to a private matter or concern. However, another meaning of the word...

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The title is also ironic because it uses the word "affair," which can mean several different things. 

The word "affair" can refer to an incident or an occurrence. As the other educators pointed out, it can also refer to a private matter or concern. However, another meaning of the word is understood as, "an illicit relationship or dalliance."

The title states that "marriage is a private affair." Normally, no one would refer to a marriage as an illicit dalliance. In fact, marriage is a public declaration of fidelity. As is the usual practice, "forbidden" affairs are often conducted in secret, and the parties involved are usually not too keen on their secret being discovered. Much is at stake in such an arrangement.

In Achebe's story, the title indicates what is made clear in the story. The groom's father (Okeke) makes his disgust with his son Nnaemeka's impending marriage to Nene public knowledge in his community. The men from Okeke's community unequivocally sympathize with Okeke's grief and anger. They condemn in blistering terms Nnaemeka's rebellious insistence on marrying Nene. In fact, the men characterize Nnaemeka's actions as a grave sin against his parent and God.

In characterizing Nnaemeka's actions in this manner, both Okeke and his male compatriots have reduced holy matrimony between two people to the level of an immoral dalliance. In these men's eyes, Nnaemeka and Nene's marriage is not a sacred, lasting alliance but a wicked sexual flirtation that is bound to fail. In Nnaemeka and Nene's case, the irony in the title is clear: far from their marriage being a sacred alliance, it is now a "private affair," something to be ashamed of within the confines of Ibo culture. 

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As was mentioned in the previous response, the title of the short story "Marriage is a Private Affair" is an example of verbal irony. Verbal irony occurs when the speaker intentionally makes a statement that contradicts their emotions or actions. The statement has an underlying meaning that is the opposite of its literal interpretation. In the story, the marriage between Nnaemeka and Nene is anything but private. Nnaemeka's father, Okeke, discusses his son's marriage with the other villagers and is upset that Nnaemeka chose his own wife. According to Ibo culture, it is custom for parents to choose who their children will marry. Even in Lagos, Nene is ostracized for her decision to marry Nnaemeka without his parents' influence and blessing. Achebe uses verbal irony in his title to illuminate how marriage in the Ibo tribe is in fact a public affair. Nnaemeka and Nene's relationship is openly discussed and judged by the citizens of Nnaemeka's home village and Lagos.

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Chinua Achebe's short story "Marriage is a Private Affair" is about the cultural and generational problems which arise when a man from the Ibo tribe wants to marry a girl from the Ibibio tribe of Nigeria. Nnaemeka is hesitant to tell his father about his impending marriage to Nene, because he believes his father will be against him marrying outside his own ethnic group. He is right and his father basically disowns him. 

The title is an example of verbal irony where language is used to say one thing but means the opposite. It is quite ironic because the marriage is far from "private." It is thoroughly discussed among the men in Nnaemeka's father's village. It is, in fact, quite an important topic in the village as it was rare for someone to marry out of their group. The men of the village are shocked and lament that a son has risen against his father. The marriage is also a topic of discussion among the Ibo women in the relatively cosmopolitan city of Lagos, where the couple lives. They initially disapprove but eventually overcome their prejudice and accept Nene into their group. The father too is on the verge of acceptance at the end of the story.

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