Compare and contrast short stories

Compare and contrast short stories

  • Type of paperEssay (Any Type)
  • SubjectLiterature
  • Number of pages3
  • Format of citationMLA
  • Number of cited resources1
  • Type of serviceRewriting

2. Compare/contrast the parent/child relationships in ″Everyday Use″ and ″Marriage Is a Private Affair,″ paying particular attention to theme as well as setting and/or characterization, and make an argument about the conflicts that can exist between generations.


Parent-Child Relationship

A parent-child relationship is regarded as the most crucial relationships that define how people associate with each other in the society. It is based on an assortment of feelings, behaviors, and anticipations that particularly defines how a parent and their child relate unconditionally.  Even though various drawbacks are experienced with parenting, the inclusion of understanding and open communication provides a healthy maintained relationship in every phase of child growth, development and parenting approach (Gerard, 1994, pg. 4). The two stories, “Marriage is a Private Affair” by Chinua Achebe and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker tend to explore the relationship between child and parent, and their generational differences. In response to that, the paper will give an elaboration between the comparison and contrast in the two short stories in regards to the parent-child relationship mainly paying attention to their theme, characterization and setting.

According to “Marriage is a Private Affair” by Chinua Achebe and “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker stories, the parents tend to hold on something very firmly – heritage and traditions. One of the story, is about a boy who has become a man and seeks his fathers’s approval for an untraditional marriage. The other is about a daughter, turned Muslim and civilized, returns home to visit her poor mother and sister. In “Marriage is a Private Affair,” Nnaemeka’s father, Okeke, is an old man who inclines to care much deeply about his traditions that trended from generations to generations; to an extent that he may even organize his son’s marriage to a lady the son does not even like. This is seen as the son would say, “It is impossible for me to marry Nweke’s daughter.” “Impossible? Why?” asked his father. “I don’t love her.” Okeke arranged for his son Nnaemeka to marry a girl from his village despite the fact that Nnaemeka is due to marry Nene (Hartmann, 1979). But on the other side, Nnaemeka is well aware of the importance of tradition especially when it comes to his father. In Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use,” the same aspect of holding on into something is also seen. Mama, the mother, tends to believe that peace is never possible between these worlds, African-American struggle, as she fantasized being reunited with her daughter Dee which she just envies her being grateful for her heritage and they live happily in peace.

Both stories adopt the aspect of attempting to achieve freedom or escape from customs or traditions that were set in their family. Chinua Achebe’s theme in “Marriage is a Private Affair” is that the father, Okeke, notices that in the end, love, particularly parent-child relationship love, is more important than culture and tradition. The conflict in this aspect emanates when Okeke disapproves his son’s urge of marrying a lady who is considered to be outside their ethnic community. The son, Nnaemeka, from the tribe of Ibe, ends up in marrying Nene, and Ibibio girl, much to the disappointment of Okeke, who thereafter rejects for various traditional reasons. The same context in the theme is seen in Alice Walker’s story “Everyday Use.” Fate defined the characters’ destiny in different paths. The characters changed so much to an extent they are negligibly recognizable as sisters. The theme steers when Mama’s daughter, Dee, visits from school.  Dee’s visit represented various qualities of another culture foreign to her heritage. The mother represents a rich heritage available to both daughters, however, it is encompassed by only one, and cast aside by the other. After receiving education, Dee became egotistical about knowledge and disregards her family. She would read to her family, “forcing words, lies, other folks’ habits, whole lives upon us two, sitting trapped and ignorant underneath her voice…like dimwits, we seemed about to understand.” (Walker, 2004, pg. 16).


However, the stories also shed light on the contrast in the role of women in the society. According to Chinua Achebe’s “Marriage is a Private Affair,” Ugoye is chosen by Okeke to marry Nnaemeka. Besides, she is barely given an option and follows the standards as dictated by her father and Okeke. Also, there seem to exist no mention of neither Okeke having a wife nor Nnaemeka having a mother. The absence of mother figure may be regarded intentional in that the author may be implicating that rather than Okeke being a widower, his wife had no input, for instance, Ugoye. However, the significance of the setting shows that the role of women in the village is silent and thus inequality exists between male and female within the society. The reality of this significant emanating that life in the village may spin around traditional gender roles with the male being dominant. However, according to Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” setting, the value of women in the society is shed much light. The author outlays the story form a mother’s (Mama) point of view, in the urge of representing a rich heritage that is available to her two daughters.  The setting is the family home, a three-room shack that one of her daughter, Dee, is very embarrassed by. Despite that, there is something intensely stunning about the dignity of a mother so poor she lives in a shack yet daily makes sure that her daughter has clean clothes and flowers for her hair (Walker, 2004).


Gerard, Anthony B. Parent-child relationship inventory. Los Angeles: Western psychological      services, 1994.

Hartmann, Heidi I. “The unhappy marriage of Marxism and feminism: Towards a more progressive             union.” Capital & Class 3.2 (1979): 1-33.

Walker, Alice. Everyday use. Films for the Humanities and Sciences, 2004.