Marriage Is a Private Affair Questions and Answers
by Chinua Achebe

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What is the theme of “Marriage is a Private Affair” by Chinua Achebe?

One of the main themes of “Marriage is a Private Affair” is the tension between town and country. Though Nene and Nnaemeka are deeply in love, there is still considerable tension between them due to the fact that they come from different backgrounds. Whereas Nene has spent her whole life in a city, Nnaemeka is from a remote, rural part of Nigeria.

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As Shakespeare famously said, the course of true love never did run smooth. And that certainly applies to Nene and Nnaemeka, the two lovebirds in “Marriage is a Private Affair.” Though they are deeply in love with one another, there is nonetheless a good deal of tension between them. This stems largely from the fact that they come from completely different backgrounds. Nene has lived her whole life in the big city—Lagos, to be precise, which at that time was the capital city of Nigeria. Nnaemeka, on the other hand, is an Ibo, and comes from a remote rural part of the country.

The town/rural divide causes considerable complications for Nene and Nnaemeka. Nene is keen to proceed with the wedding as soon as possible and blithely assumes that Nnaemeka's father Okeke will happily give them his blessing. But Nnaemeka's not so sure. Unlike her intended, Nene's not an Ibo, and so doesn't really understand the dim view that Ibo tradition takes of marrying outside one's ethnic group....

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