Marriage Is A Private Affair | Four Levels

marriage is a private affair four levels
DR Gurung

Four Levels of " Marriage Is A Private Affair ". "Marriage Is A Private Affair" was written by Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe. Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. He attended the University of Ibadan. In 1958, his pioneering novel "Things Fall Apart" was published. It went on to sell more than 12 million copies and been translated into more than 50 languages. Achebe later served as the David and Mariana Fisher University professor and professor of African Studies at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. He died on March 21, 2013, at age 82, in Boston, Massachusetts.

Also Read:

Summary Of "Marriage Is A Private Affair"
Introduction and Word Meanings Of "Marriage Is A Private Affair"
Question And Answers Of "Marriage Is A Private Affair"

Four Levels Of Marriage Is A Private Affair:

1. Literal Comprehension: This chapter deals with cross-cultural studies. In this story, a Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe talks about a marriage incident as a cross-cultural problem. Okeke's son Nnaemeka is engaged to marry Nene a Christian girl and she is not from his tribe and she is a teacher. But his father has chosen another girl from his own tribe for his son. In his culture parents decide about the marriage. Inter-caste marriage is not acceptable in Nnaemeka's Ibo culture. Sohis father tries to persuade his son not to marry her, but Nnaemeka remains strict to marry Nene. Okeke abandons his son as a lost matter and possess no more interested in him. But their prejudice becomes less when they realize that Nnaemeka and Nene are most happy and successful couple. But his father does not know anything about his son until Nene writes a letter to him saying that his two gran-sons want to see him. Then he tries hard to forget them but he can't. His mind and spirit wants to see them. Now he relizes his mistake and defeats in this matter and accepts them. Then he replies that he is ready to meet them. In this way, love affection and personal interest as well as love of children is more powerful than culture and tradition; no tribal rule can stop today's people from love and marriage.

2. Interpretation: This story is the example of the incidents that take place every day in our societies too. Here, the writer has depicted a very common social problem of religious and tribal groups in the underdeveloped countries. As this is a story from Nigeria, it is an example of cultural differences of their society. Nnaemeka is engaged to marry a teacher, Nene, who is a Christian. But his father has chosen another girl of his own tribe for his son. In his culture an elder member of the family decides whom a man is to marry. Nene is from another tribe. To marry an outsider is unheard in Nnaemeka's Ibo culture which is very common in our society. So, his father is shocked and worried. He tries to persuade his son not to marry her, but Nnaemeka is determined to marry Nene. Then he gives up his son and is no more interested in him. Even his villagers do not accept this marriage, but their prejudice becomes less when they realize that Nnaemeka and Nene are a most happy couple. But his father does not know anything about his son until Nene writes a letter to him saying that his two grand-sons want to see him. Then he tries hard to forget them but he can't. He is interested to see his grand-sons and realizes his mistake and he is ready to welcome them whole heartedly as soon as possible.

3. Critical Thinking: Such Type of social and cultural incidents are very common in our societies also. In many societies, love, engagement, marriage, etc. are possible only in their similar castes. Okeke, socially and religiously opposes his son's marriage to Nene because she is from a different tribe. But at last he is changed, he changed his attitude and decision. In fact he becomes progressive and he ignores religion and culture and accepts his grand-sons. He loves those whom he has not seen at all. Humanity lies in his heart which compels him to accept them. He realizes that he should not have seen differences in humans. He should have known the equality for all the human-beings.He should have come out of the narrow thinking of their culture and society. Therefore, he gathered courage to avoid the barriers of society and accepted his son, daughter-in-law and grand-sons.

4. Assimilation: Religions and culture are different in terms of differences in castes but humanity and love cannot be different. Love for children cannot be ignored. After reading this, I really felt the humanity lies in every human heart. Okeke finally accepted the marriage. He silently accepted his grand-sons. I found the saying, 'love of interest is greater than the principle true'.Okeke accepts his son and daughter-in-law but he cannot ignore his grand -sons. This story memorized me some such incidents in my societies also. There are such many societies who have tribal, social, cultural and religious rules and regulations but they are not solely followed by new generations because the narrow boundaries are not accepted in today's world.

Or You May Choose Below Four Levels:

1. Literal Comprehension: The story ‘ Marriage is a Private Affair’ shows the conflict between old generation and new generation. Nnaemeka and Nene are the main characters of the story. Nnaemeka is an Ibo. He is a modern son of a conservative father, Okeke. Nnaemeka lives in Lago’s but his father lives in the village. In Lagos, he falls in love with a low caste girl named Nene. She is a teacher in a girls’ school. When they are planning to get married, Nnaemeka receives a letter from his father. According to the letter, Okeke has found a good girl for Nnemeka. Her name is Ugoye Nweke, the daughter of Jacob Nweke, his neighbor. Nnaemeka knows the girl because she read with him in the same school. Once she had slapped him. However he goes to visit his father. He refused to marry Ugoye Nweke. Then the conflict arises between Nnaemeka and his father.

Nnaemeka returns to Lagos and marries a Nene. He sends their wedding picture to Okeke. Then he becomes very angry to see the picture. He mutilates the picture of Nene and sends that back Nnaemeka's picture. He writes that he has nothing to do with Nnaemeka and Nene. The letter makes Nene very sad and she weeps. Eight years passed and they have two sons. They want to visit their grandfather. So one day Nene writes Okeke about the wish of his grandsons. It brings a great change in his mind. He knows that they are innocent. He also thinks that he is fighting. He also realizes the change in the weather. He imagines his grandson standing in fierce wind and heavy rain outside. Finally he decides to permit his son and the son’s family to visit him and the conflict is over.

2. Interpretation: The writer may be trying to show the difference between the thinking and modern mind. The writer says that marriage is a private affair and the young people should have rights and freedom to choose life partners. The parents shouldn’t interfere and they should adopt the democratic pattern. They should never impose their thoughts on their matured sons or daughters. As a whole the writer is in the favour of love marriage.

3. Critical Thinking: Most of the ideas of the writer are being a person of modern time. I also prefer love marriage to arrange marriage. However some ideas of the writer are skeptical. Can we easily alter our tradition and culture? Can we disagree our parents so easily like Nnaemeka? Does Okeke really change his thinking after knowing his grandson’s wish? Does he really allow Nnaemeka and his family to visit him?

4. Assimilation: This story influences me very much like the writer, I also prefer inter-caste marriage. I am also in the same position as Nnaemeka some years ago. I also fell in love with a low caste girl who read in the same class as me. She is very beautiful and talent. When my parents knew about it they called me home and I knew that they had already arranged of fat and ugly girl for me. I refused to marry her. Then I had conflict with them. I returned to Kathmandu and married my girlfriend. I even sent our wedding picture to them. Only yesterday I got a letter from my father who angrily wrote that he had nothing to do with me and my wife. However I am hopeful that they will accept me and my wife one day in the future.

Or You May Choose Below Four Levels:

1. Literal Comprehension: This suggestive story “Marriage is a Private Affair” is written by famous Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe. In this story, he has described about one marriage relation show marriage as a private affair. The subject matter of this story is love and marriage between Nnaemeka and Nene where Nnaemeka is from Ibo tribe and Nene is from other tribe. He did engagement and started to live with at Lagos city. When they were engaged Nene was asking to send the message about their engagement to his father Okeke but Nnaemeka did not do that because he was familiar with his father’s nature and his culture. According to his culture, the son of Ibo tribe has to marry the girl of their own tribe arranged by father. If the arrangement is done by the father it will be acceptable from all the members of that community. If the arrangement is done by sons themselves with the girl of different tribe, it would make father very angry and creates the tension in family. So, he planned to tell his father when he went home on leave. But he did not tell to Nene that his father had already chosen a girl Ugoye of his own tribe.

Nnaemeka went home on leave and told his father that he could not marry Ugoye because he was engaged to marry with Nene who is a good Christian and teacher in Lagos City whom he loves. After hearing this Okeke became very angry because according him and his rituals Christian woman should not speak/teach. Then Okeke asked her name and when he knew that she was the girl of other tribe but not of Ibo tribe, he became silent which silent was more dangerous than his angry speech. Okeke tried to persuade his son Nnaemeka not to marry with Nene. But when Okeke was sure that his son would not obey him, he did not speak with his son after ordering to go away from home and gave up as a last. When Nnaemeka went to Lagos, the neighbors came to Okeke to give sympathy about his son’s behavior. Different old people and gentlemen encouraged Okeke to go against his behavior and suggested to check his son with witch doctor by saying his mind is not right. But Okeke denied that idea.

After six months Nnaemeka showed his father’s letter to Nene. Nnaemeka had sent their weeding picture to his father. His father had returned to them by damaging the picture of Nene. Nene sobbed when she found her picture damaged. He consoled her by saying that his father is a good natured man and that one day all would be right. Nene and Nnaemeka were living happier and more comfortable life in Lagos. Everybody except Nnaemeka’s father Okeke in Ibo tribe knew about that because Okeke never liked to talk about his son and never let other to talk about his son. With a great effort, he was able to forget his son because almost 8 years went by not having any contact between Okeke and his son Nnaemeka. Nene had given birth to two sons within that time. Nene wrote a serious letter to Okeke telling that his two grandsons were enthusiastic / inspiring to see their grandfather. She had requested him in letter to allow them to see him and also told that she would not come to village where Nnaemeka would come with grandsons. When Okeke read the letter of Nene, the idea of grandson melted him and he soon realized his mistake not giving invite to his son and daughter-in law for eight years in to their home. He regretted for his behavior. The sky was clouded and started to rain. He could not sleep that night. He saw vision that two grandsons were waiting outside in the rain asking to come in. tears came in his eyes. Mentally Okeke wanted to invite Nene’s family. So he had vague fear that he might die before giving them their proper right.

2. Interpretation: This story “Marriage is a Private Affair” might be trying to tell us that married life becomes happier and joyful if it is done privately and in accordance with personal choice. Along with it, the writer wants to say that if the society is superstitious and narrow minded, it brings us tension and problems. It is not necessary to get married within own culture like Ibo in this story to live happy married life. As Okeke did not accept his son’s private marriage with Nene, he got 8 years tension, misunderstanding, conflicts and sadness which are the result of narrow mindedness and superstitious belief/traditional belief. Here the writer wants to suggest that we should be careful, qualified and independent then personal choice of marriage can be the best example of marriage to live happily.

3. Critical Thinking: Thought the writer’s focus is to show private affair of marriage as the best example of marriage to live with joy and happiness, he has not described anything about the arrange marriage which has its own value too. So, some of the points which are described in this story makes me disagree. Here the private marriage life of Nene and Nnaemeka is shown as one of the happier and joyful life. Why did Nene write letter to Okeke, father-in-Law, saying that their two sons want to meet him? Can’t we say that they were not happy? Can a private marriage always create happiness? Presently, we can see that private affair of marriage is bringing lots of problem in the world rather than arranged marriage. More events of divorce are occurring in private marriage cases. In such condition, how can we regard private marriage as the best example? When Okeke could not convince his son Nnaemeka not to marry with Nene, he completely rejected his son. How can a father reject a son due to his misunderstanding of marriage?

4. Assimilation: After reading this story, I came to know that superstitious and back-warded societies are not only in Nepal, these people are everywhere else. This story made me to remember the incident when I wanted to have inter-cast marriage with my present wife. She belongs to Newar family and me from Brahman family. We were in private affair at that time but our both family came to know our relation. As they were superstitious, both families denied our relation saying that we have different culture but we didn’t give up and decided that convincing both family, we would get marry and enjoy the happy life. Finally, we both became independent and decided to get marry which was also accepted by both families. Now, everybody is happy seeing us that we are enjoying our private marriage life.

Or You May Choose Below Four Levels:

1. Literal Comprehension: In this story the famous Nigerian writer Achebe presents about the marriage tradition of Ibo tribe in which marriage is not a private affair. Parents decided the marriage of their son and daughter. Nnaemeka, A boy from Ibo culture went to do logos town for his study where he met a Christian girl Nene. They both were in love but Nene didn't know about his orthodox Ibo tradition about marriage. In Ibo culture, parents decided the marriage and it should not be outside form heir culture Nene was surprised when she heard it his father would be furious when Nnaemeka went to his house but his father Okeke had arranged a girl from Ibo culture of his marriage. Nnaemeka denied to get married with girl and informed that he was engaged with a Christian teacher it made his father too furious and him become silent in his anger. Nnaemeka left his house, went to logos and got married with Nene. They happy life in the town but his father didn't like to listen at all about them. When they sent their marriage photos he denied accepting. After some years, they had babies and once Nene wrote letter to Okeke that his grandchildren liked to see his face. Okeke also throughout it was the time to play with grandchildren as his friends. He felt that he would die before to see his grandchildren. It was started to rain, Okeke felt that his grandchildren would wet in the room. This shows that he would call them to his house back.

2. Interpretation: This story tells us marriage should be a private affair. IT also shows that us should not stick towards our tradition and culture because if we couldn't change our tradition according to the time, we can't get happiness. Here, Okeke couldn't change his traditional attitude of Ibo culture and he gave trouble to others and he also got pain him self. So we should keep borders prospective and we should learn to accept the change. At last Okeke also had to accept the change.

3. Critical Thinking: This story presents the tradition of Ibo culture of Nigeria. There are some issues which we can't accept easily. How could be a father so rude towards his son? How could he forget him? All parents love their children. At the end also, Okeke could have accepted them for his own need because he was going to be old and he needed the economic support.

4. AssimilationThis story reminded me the Nepalese arrange marriage tradition. IN Nepal also, parents didn't like to accept the marriage outside from their caste and culture. Parents decide for the marriage of their son and daughter love marriage is not taken as positively. Parents seem to accept. The love marriage of their son and daughter though they become angry for some months or years.

Or You May Choose Below Four Levels:

1. Literal Comprehension: Naemeka was a boy from village. He belonged to Ibo tribe. But he was in love with a girl from the different tribe who was the resident of Lagos. Though, they had decided to marry , Naemeka at first couldn’t accumulate his courage to convey this information to his father who was stuck to traditional culture and beliefs. But as he got the message from his father that he was going to get engaged with a country girl, he went to his house and gave his decision that he wouldn’t marry her. His father got extremely enraged with this and responded him that he wouldn’t accept Nene , Naemeka’s beloved, as his daughter-in-law because that would be against Ibo culture. And so he tried to persuade Naemeka not to marry Nene. But Naemeka as already determined didn’t follow his father and got back to city and married Nene.His father heard this and was highly shocked from this news. From that day, his conflicts with his father began. His father had to be humiliated from the villagers. They advised Okeke to consult the herbalist since he was said to have problems in his mind. Okeke getting angry with his son didn’t let him come home for eight years. He had almost forgotten his son and daughter in law. Once, afterwards, Nene sent a letter to her father-in-law requesting him to let his grandsons come to see him as they had extremely desired to do so. Ultimately, he felt regret for what he had done and was supposed to make resolution to allow them to visit him.

2. Interpretation: The story basically presents the burning social problems found in the rural areas where the majority of the people are superstitious and uneducated. Okeke living in a village doesn’t like his son marrying with a city girl of different tribe. It presents thus the conflict between father and son, one representing the traditional values and the next modern and changing values. The next important point in the story is that it has shown the fact that marriage must be a private affair in everyone’s life. One must be free to choose his/her life partner according to his/her wish. It helps them to lead a very happy life and also it helps to avoid the social discrimination to a great extent.

3. Critical Thinking: Though the story presenting a burning social problem deserves good response and appreciation from the reader’s side, yet, in deeper level, there are many points in which they may not be satisfied. Now people aren’t as they were in the past because of changing social values and education. People aren’t stuck to the old values, tradition and system. So far marriage is concerned, people are enjoying it as a private affair rather than the means to protect the culture. Inter-cast marriage has become the fashion among the youngsters of the time. So, the present story fails to capture the interest of the people.

4. Assimilation: As I read this story, it reminded me of one of my brothers. As Nnaemeka, he got married with a girl of his choice from the city. She was from very well-to-do family, educated and civilized. Since she was from the different caste, the family didn’t accept their marriage. So, for almost ten years, they were socially boycotted and stayed in city. But now they are living with their family happily in village.

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DR Gurung
A Learner (अज्ञान जस्तो ठूलो शत्रु अरु केही छैन।) 🙏🙏
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