Marriage Is a Private Affair

by Chinua Achebe

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Why does Okeke react more to learning about his grandsons than to his son's marriage photo?

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When Okeke receives a picture of Nnaemeka and his wife, Okeke cuts out Nene's image and returns the photograph. The picture reminds Okeke of his son's decision, which upsets him. At the end of the short story, Nene writes Okeke a letter asking him to allow their two boys to come and visit their grandfather. Achebe writes that Okeke felt his resolution begin to fade at the thought of his grandchildren. Okeke then imagines his grandchildren standing out in the rain, sad and forsaken. The Ibo have a high regard for their grandchildren and value their posterity. Okeke cannot help but wish to have a loving relationship with his grandchildren. The Ibo culture also values males, which is another appealing reason for Okeke to meet his grandchildren. Also, Okeke does not harbor negative feelings towards them. They are essentially innocent because Okeke's anger has been directed towards their father and not them. His grandchildren are part of his family who had no say in who their father chose to marry. The picture reminds Okeke of Nnaemeka's bold decision to reject tradition, while the news about his sons brings Okeke a sense of joy and regret. Whether or not Okeke decides to let his grandchildren visit is left unanswered at the end of the story.

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