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Daiana Jean-Louis
Professor Nancy Dunn
ENC 1102
11/02/2014
Awakening
Relationships in general require devotion, selflessness, kindness, love, and a certain level
of respect and acceptance. According to Oxford dictionary, a relationship is defined by The way
in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected. Also,
there are different types of relationships. Those one is born into and those one gets into
consciously and willingly, regardless of what kind of relationship, both must be valued and
cherished. Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe and American writer Alice Walker In their short
stories Marriage is a Private Affair and Everyday Use explore the relationships that exist
between parents and their children. While Achebes character Nnaemeka battles with his fathers
disapproval of his bride; Walkers character, Mama, finally takes a stand against her oldest
daughters self-centered ways. It is understood that Achebe and Walker both convey that loving
someone does not mean that one must tolerate their irrational behaviors or their insensitivity
towards ones own beliefs. (Great intro)
Those three or four times older automatically command a certain amount of respect due
to the wisdom attained throughout the years. Although sometimes many of our parents and
grandparents prove to be wiser than us, some of their traditional standards become conflicted
with our new age way of thinking. Both authors use their settings to set the stage for each story.
In Achebes story the characters except for Nene (the fiance), are from a remote African village
where everyone knows everything about everybody; therefore, if certain decisions are not made

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properly they will be frown upon by the whole village. Walker, in turn, describes a remote
southern black town during the 90s where racism was still widespread. It is with this traditional
picture that these authors paint which allows readers to understand the strained interaction that
exists between the characters.
In Marriage is a Private Affair, Nnaemekas father represents the patriarch of the whole
African tribe, a title that brings about respect and honor. Therefore, when his son announces his
desire to wed a women out of the formal traditional realm this causes a slight disagreement that
goes on to last for years. For example, Yes. They are most unhappy if the engagement is not
arranged by them. In our case its worseyou are not even an Ibo (1). There is an unmistakable
wisdom in people older than us and again in those younger than us that the issue starts when both
generations are unwilling to find a common ground to prevent any resentment that might occur.
Often it is believed that with age comes wisdom because of past experiences. Yet with our
forever-evolving world, younger generations will be more prone to let go of tradition and
embrace what is different, forbidden and new.
Like a revolution, younger generations throughout history have risen to stand up against
traditional norms that have handicapped their mental and physical lives. Walker communicates
this through Dees new embrace of her African culture. "What happened to "Dee'?" I wanted
to know. "She's dead," Wangero said. "I couldn't bear it any longer, being named after the people
who oppress me" (3). Dee goes as far as changing her name to demonstrate the pride she feels at
her newly discovered identity; this new discovery is interpreted as bizarre by her Mother and
sister because Dees newness seems to be fueled by the popularity of the cause (getting in touch
with your culture) instead of standing for the actual purpose of fighting for equality itself.

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As we delve deeper into both stories, it becomes obvious that standing up for what one believes
in does not make one love that person any less, it just allows one to command the respect one so
deserves.
Achebe and Walkers characters realize that if they do not take a stand there (wont) will
not (stay away from contractions in formal writing unless in a quote) be a change, almost
like a coming of age, Nnaemeka and Mama reject the notion that they shall sacrifice their own
happiness for the nonsense. For example in Achebes story, Nnamaeka has come to terms with
his fathers disapproval Dont cry, my darling, said her husband. He is essentially goodnatured and will one day look more kindly on our marriage(5). Likewise, in Walkers story
when Mama snatches the quilt out of Dees hands because she realizes that Maggie deserves to
have the beautiful quilt she also has a revelation, when I looked at her like that something hit
me in the top of my head and ran down to the soles of my feetI did something I never had
done before. snatched the quilts out of Dees hands and dumped them into Maggie's lap...
Take one or two of the others, I said to Dee(5).
Despite being very similar in their characters and themes of becoming awakened, the two
stories slightly differ when it comes to the parents. In Achebes story, the father was being mule
headed about the sons engagement while the mother in Walkers was very reluctant to notice her
youngest daughters worth. The father in Achebes did not act upon his realization of his
wrongdoing (until he learns he has grandchildren and also has a revelation or epiphany) but
the mother in Walkers did. These two stories are significant in their portrayal of how people
often let small things prevent them from being happy. The times we spend with our loved ones
are far too precious to be wasted on trivial matters when coming together and finding a common
ground would be better.

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Works Cited
Achebe, Chinua. "Marriage Is a Private Affair." Girls at War and Other Stories. Chinua Achebe.
New York: Fawcett Premier, 1973. 22+. LitFinder. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.
Walker, Alice (American novelist). "Everyday Use." In Love & Trouble. Alice Walker. San
Diego: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1973. 47+. LitFinder. Web. 6 Dec. 2013.