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

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mercut1469 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The message of Chinua Achebe's short story "Marriage is a Private Affair" is that, despite cultural and generational prejudices, family love is an essential part of life. Nnaemeka's father, an Ibo man, is dead set against his son marrying out of their ethnic group. He basically disowns his son because Nnaemeka marries Nene, an Ibibio woman. The father even cuts Nene out of the wedding picture his son sends him. The men of the Ibo village all agree that Nnaemeka has rebelled against his father and that his actions are scandalous. The fact the marriage is quite a topic of discussion in the village and among the Ibo women in Lagos renders the title an example of verbal irony. 

Fortunately for Nnaemeka, his father softens after receiving a letter from Nene saying that the couple has two sons who would very much like to see their grandfather. In the final lines of the story, the father is regretting his decision and hoping his son will forgive him and how he will make it up to the couple. He is overcome by the love that is inherent with blood. He is overcome by longing to see his grandsons. The message also has a universal purpose as Achebe is saying that love is stronger than any enmity which may exist between ethnic groups, religions or races.

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