The generation gap that exists between parents and children has been a subject of numerous discussions for many centuries. In a short story “Marriage Is a Private Affair,” Chinua Achebe focuses on the conflict between a father and a son that occurs on the basis of differences in their attitudes to marriage and religion. On the example of these two characters, the author demonstrates that the inability of parents and children to find the common language is often based on their stubbornness and unwillingness to accept the opinion of each other.
Analyzing the situation described in the short story, one understands that it is the father’s stubbornness that triggers the conflict between him and his son. Considering himself to be wise and experienced, he thinks that his son should also follow his example and stick to the same moral and cultural principles that he learned years ago. In particular, he refuses to acknowledge his daughter-in-law just because of the fact that she is from another village, and it violates the old tradition of his family. In fact, he does not even try to understand his son and to respect his feelings. More than that, the father expresses many gender bias: he claims that a woman should not work, must be humble and silent, and be interested only in her family and God. At the same time, all the attempts of his son to explain to him that the times have changed, and people have different priorities, are perceived as nothing but a spiritual suicide. In particular, in the conversation with his fellowmen, the father says, “If my son wants to kill himself, let him do it with his own hands (Achebe 26).” Only the fear that he may never see his son and grandchildren again makes the old man change his mind.
Summing up, in the short story “Marriage Is a Private Affair,” C. Achebe demonstrates the possible factors that can lead to the conflicts between parents and children. The author emphasizes that miscommunication that emerges between the representatives of different generations often appears because of the inability of one side to accept the lifestyle and priorities of another. With his story, Achebe also demonstrates that, in order to find the common language, parents and children should pay more attention to the feelings of each other and ignore trivial biases and stereotypes.
- Achebe, Chinua. “Marriage Is a Private Affair.” Girls at War and Other Stories. Chinua Achebe. New York: Fawcett Premier, 1973. 22+.