Love and Tradition in “Marriage Is a Private Affair”

Topics: Family, Marriage, Chinua Achebe Pages: 3 (551 words) Published: May 21, 2011
Love and tradition in “Marriage is a Private Affair”
Marriage traditions vary greatly throughout the world. In some cultures, people’s

marriages are traditionally arranged by their parents. In others cultures, the partners make their

own choice. This diversity in tradition causes many conflicts within the family as well as in the

culture group. A great example of marriage and its importance to different cultures is the story

by Chinua Achebe, “Marriage is a Private Affair.” The story takes place in Africa, a country of

great cultural diversity. Old traditions continue to govern life in Nigerian villages, where parents

often play a decisive role in choosing mates for their children. In the cities, however, modern

practices displace many of the village traditions, including the role of parent as a mate finder.

The tension between old and new ways of living sometimes creates conflict within families,

especially between generations. The following story focuses on a conflict between a father and

son about the choice of the son’s marriage partner. Despite of the strong devotion to the tradition,

Okeke the father can hardly resist the love of his family.

Firstly, the tradition plays a very important role in that story. Okeke is an old man, who

lives in a Nigerian village, where the traditions have very important role in people’s lives. He is

first introduced to the readers from the very beginning of the story in a conversation between

Nene and Nnaemeka. Although this conversation reveals little about his character, we think of

him as an authoritarian father. And, as a traditional Ibo, he does not accept the couple's

engagement. For example, “They are most unhappy if the engagement is not arranged by them”

(258) shows Nnaemeka fear of his father’s disapproval of their marriage. As a result, the

conversation between Okeke and his son shows both Okeke's deep disappointment and firm

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