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Marriage Is a Private Affair

by Chinua Achebe

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What is the relationship between Okeke and Nene in "Marriage is a Private Affair"?

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In Chinua Achebe's short story, "Marriage is a Private Affair," Okeke is Nene's father-in-law, who refuses to have anything to do with her after she married his son, Nnaemeka. Nnaemeka is a young Igbo man from the country, who travels to Lagos, where he meets and falls in love with Nene. Nene hails from the cosmopolitan city of Lagos and laughs when Nnaemeka tries to explain to her how upset his father will be that he rejected traditional marriage customs and got engaged. When Nnaemeka travels home to tell his father, Okeke, that he is engaged to a woman named Nene, Okeke is deeply hurt by his son's decision and shuns him for eight years. Okeke even refuses to accept Nnaemeka and Nene's wedding photo and sends it back to them mutilated. After eight years of marriage, Nene writes a letter to her father-in-law asking him to allow Nnaemeka to bring their two sons to visit him. The story ends on a positive note with Okeke thinking about meeting his grandsons for the first time and experiencing a change of heart.

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Okeke and Nene are related by marriage in the short story "Marriage is a Private Affair." Okeke is Nene's father-in-law. Chinua Achebe's short story, set in Nigeria, is about the marriage of Nnaemeka and Nene, who are from different ethnic groups. Their marriage is a source of conflict between Nnaemeka and his father, Okeke. Okeke objects to his new daughter-in-law for three reasons. First, he believes his son should not marry out of his ethnic group. Second, he had already arranged for Nnaemeka to marry an Ibo girl from his rural village. Third, he doesn't like the fact that Nene is a teacher. Okeke believes, according to his interpretation of the bible, that women should not be teachers. After the wedding, Okeke disowns his son for eight years until he receives a letter from Nene indicating the couple have two sons who would very much like to see their grandfather. In the end, Achebe suggests that Okeke will be reunited with his son and will finally accept Nene as his daughter-in-law.

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