“Marriage Is A Private Affair” By Chinua Achebe
Love affairs, social issues, a generation gap, and cultural misunderstanding between the representatives of different tribes are the main problems raised in one short story written by a well-known, incredibly talented, and enormously skilled Nigerian novelist, professor, and poet, Chinua Achebe in his masterpiece under the name of Marriage is a Private Affair. The story is quite short to be written in 15 minutes, but the issue described out there will leave a long-lasting impression in your heart. Such a true-looking essay helps to penetrate the author’s environment, understand his feelings, and get acquainted with another culture.
The novel is composed in plain English consisting of dialogues for the most part and several letters. It shows the nearly 10-year period of heroes’ life. There are three main characters: a young man from Igbo village, Nnaemeka, a woman living in Lagos, Nene, and a man’s father and a great believer in old traditions, Okeke, who lives in the village. The story is based on the pair’s intention to marry.
The story opens with the events taking place in one Nigerian city, Lagos, 1952. Nene works as a teacher in the city school. She and Emeka are going to marry. One day when checking her students’ works at home she asks her soul mate to bring her tea to have a break. When her fiance brings a cup of tea she asks whether he has informed his father about their engagement. Emeka says that he is going to announce his father about this event face to face during his vacation to the village in six weeks. However, he is afraid of his father’s disapproval of his soul mate because of tribal differences and the tradition of arranged marriages. Nene asks Emeka to write a letter instead of waiting but the man insists on informing in person, especially after receiving a message from his father telling about son’s future wedding with the already chosen bride for him, a daughter of their neighbor, Ugoye Nweke.
Then Nnaemeka comes back to his native village where he was born. When talking to his father, he reveals that he has found his soul mate in Lago, a schoolteacher with good Christian traditions. He assures Okeke that they will marry as soon as possible. Unfortunately, the young man faces stiff opposition from his dad who doesn’t give his blessing and even disowns his son. Emeka is very disappointed with father’s words who can’t accept the son’s choice of wife. Okeke asks his sone to leave him and never arrive because according to their tribal traditions a son can’t rise against the father’s word.
The next events happen in Lagos, 1953. They start with Nene and Emeka’s wedding day. They love each and other and hope for a lucky future, but their happiness is incomplete because of his father’s decision.
In a half a year later, Okeke receives a big parcel from Lagos containing Emeka’s wedding picture. But the old man doesn’t accept this gift and returns the picture cut to pieces. Nene is very distressed by this fact. She is afraid to get acquainted with Emeka’s relatives living in Lagos as well. Her husband asks her to forget about her father’s foolishness and meet them with a smile.
The next part of the story describes events that take place 8 years later in the same Nigerian city. Nene and Emeka have two children, Adi and Molly. Nene is talking with Issie, the one Emeka’s sib who was nice to her at the first meeting in Lagos. Issie loves Nene admitting that the woman is the best housekeeper and mother she has ever known. She tries to help a young woman to make peace with her husband’s father. Issie proposes Nene to write a letter about her children and to pass on it to Okeke. It will be one more try to find the way toward his heart.
A few days later Issie arrives at the village and gives a letter to Okeke. He refuses to read it. That is why Issie starts reading it by herself.
The old man forgives his son and her wife for the hurt they’ve done. The novel ends with a happy meeting Molly and Adi with their grandfather. Love has no boundaries!