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Analysis of Cathedral by Raymond Carver and Marriage is a Private

Analysisof Cathedral by RaymondCarver and Marriageis a Private Affair by Chinua Achebe

Thearticle is about marriage in the two stories Raymond CarverCathedral and Chinua Achebe, Marriage is a private affair that isevident and the challenges met in both of them. In both storiesmarriage is evident between different people. For example, in ChinuaAchebe’s Marriage is a private affair, the title presents marriageinstitutions in the story (Bloom4). On the other hand, Cathedral by Raymond Carvers presents instancesof marriage. For example, when the story begins, the wife of certainnarrator who is a friend to a blind man by the name Robert isoffered. In both stories, marriage is a fundamental institution inany given community. Both stories show common topics such asdissatisfaction, transformation and communication. For instance,events surrounding the cathedral take place in one night (Madden7).

Marriageis a relationship existing between two people with a promise to loveone another and stay in the confines of excluding others fromentering into that bond. In the literature, marriage is usuallypresented to depict certain values inherent in a given community, howa societal value marriage and the steps taken to counterattack thosewho go below the societal values. The primary reason is forcompanionship and also ensuring there is a constant continuation ofgenerations’ day in day. In the various dialogues throughout thestories marriage give meaning to the society and its development. Inboth stories marriage is a private affair by Chinua Achebe andCathedral by Raymond, marriage is evident throughout the stories andthus plays a pivotal role in the plot development. For example, thetitle of Chinua Achebe`s story presents marriage and thus marriage isan important aspect in developing a story and also in makingliterature at large authentic (Madden10).

ChinuaAchebe marriage is a private affair

Thisstory is a story that presents the river between two strata of thelife of the community. Marriage is seen to be followed fromgeneration to generation. For example, age, senior generationJuxtaposing with very strict morals and values and tradition, and ayounger generation that does not under any circumstance whatsoevervalues the nation is quite detrimental to the continuation ofsociety. Chinua Achebe presents a younger generation which perceivethe values of an older generation to be valueless. In many places, inthe world, marriage has significantly changed. In some cultures,people just do a cheap ceremony. Furthermore, others do not evenbother registering their documents. They are contented for economic,culture, or social reasons to be committed to partner and thus donot need blessing or rather blessings from church elders, pastors,peers and people who are above them in terms of knowledge and age. Inthe recent past, women have experience significant financialstability and thus their argument is centred towards the notion thatthey can manage their relationships well if they have a modern andunderstanding partner (Bloom8).

Inthe story Marriage is a private affair by Chinua Achebe, it presenttwo phases of society an older generation that is guided bytraditions and a new generation that does not believe in traditions.Nene, together with a young man Nnaemeka are in love and plan to getmarried. Nene tells Nnaemeka to inform his father of the plans, buthe is quite nervous. His father is an Ibo and Nene is not an Ibo thushe is fearful that his father will not approve the marriage.Traditionalcultural values are seen throughout as very restrictive thusinflexible. The values are, therefore, seen as detrimental to thehappiness and freedom of marriage. To solve these conflicts,interference and hostility, love is applied which is more thanarbitrary cultural values which are quite dictatorial. The ancientvalue where parents choose partners is suggested. In the first line,of the dialogue a young bridegroom is dubious of the reception hisnews on marriage will receive (Bloom14).

Inthis story, Nene and Nnaemeka are in love. Nene tells Nnaemeka toinform his father on their plans, but he is a bit nervous. Heanticipates that his father will not be receptive since Nene is notan Ibo. Nene wonders how tribal background could limit their plansand in essence, she tells Nnaemeka to write a letter to his father toinform him on the plans. Nnaemeka opts to face his father in person.In addition, back home, his father had already chosen a bride forhim, a girl that he has no interest in. The situation here reflectshow older generation responsibility for their children choice ofmarriage. Parents are always presented to be people who areknowledgeable in matters pertaining marriage since they are in it andthus know the correct recipe for one`s own marriage (Bloom17).

Cathedralby Raymond Craver

Cathedralfeatures a couple who are married and a widower who joined togetherone evening. The narrator who is not named together with his wife ishaving marital problems and that meeting was a determinant of whetheror not they will stay together in the near future or not. When thestory starts, Cathedral says that the blind man who was an old friendof his wife was on the way so as to spend the night with them. Afterthe blind man`s wife had died when she was visiting close relativesand friends in Connecticut. This was after arrangements for thevisit. The narrator states that he was not even excited about thevisit (Madden20).

Marriagein this case is presented as an institution with trampled welcome andswinging doors. Raymond has presented many marital struggles thatsurround the class of people who are working. In many instances,marriage is a ground where people come together. Nevertheless, it issomething that people in general need to embrace carefully to getchildren. The write illustrates various situations that are manifestin the lives of adult-failing relationships, paying bills, andpersonal setbacks made daily or in a year (Madden22).

Raymondat the beginning of the story presents an example where the narratordescribes his first husband of his wife. The husband is presented asan officer who was adored by her. The narrator in this case presentsan instance of insecurity in a marriage coupled with jealousy thatthe first husband had. This is an example where marriage fails andthus a setback to those involved. Meanwhile, when the wife attemptsto commit suicide, this context is a clear indicator of therelationship that is in existence between different characters. It isevident that Robert is more of a confidant than a husband. Thispresents marital problems (Madden22).

Theblindness of the narrator towards the external contexts and the wayhe lives is seen in his judgement about Beulah`s and Robert`smarriage. Though the narrator feels sorry for the couples, he pokesBeulah could really look ridiculous and Robert would not know. Thequality of marriage is presented on mere looks. Marriage in this caseis not assessed on the basis of compassion and trust since thehusband cannot see. In one example, the narrator says that ‘`imaginea woman who could never see herself the way she was seen by herlover.” The marriage of the narrator is also deficient (Madden22).


Marriageis very vital in any institution. As an institution, it is therelationship existing between two people with a promise to love oneanother and stay in the confines of excluding others from enteringinto that bond. In the literature, marriage is usually presented todepict certain values inherent in a given community, how a societalvalue marriage and the steps taken to counterattack those who gobelow the societal values. The primary reason is for companionshipand also ensuring there is a constant continuation of generation`sday in day. In the various dialogues throughout the stories marriagegive meaning to the society and its development. Both stories aredescriptive on marriage where Chinua Achebe shows the gap between theolder generation and the young generation. Raymond, on the otherhand, presents the challenges by faced by married people especiallythe working class. The premarital problems are evident in thedialogues presented in the story (Madden22).


Bloom,Harold. RaymondCarver: Comprehensive Research and Study Guide.Broomall, PA: Chelsea House, 2002. Print.

Madden,Frank. ExploringLiterature: Writing and Arguing about Fiction, Poetry, Drama, and theEssay.New York: Pearson Longman, 2009. Print.