An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage: Epilogue Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
 Roy writes to Celestial saying that he was saved in the dark of their bedroom. He expresses his shame at hurting Andre, and says he knows Andre hadn’t fought him back with all his strength—making him wonder if Andre hadn’t thought him worth the fight. He says he was jealous of Celestial’s care for Andre when it seemed like she didn’t care for Roy, and he was even jealous of the tree. In that moment, he felt willing to kill himself and Dre. He has signed the divorce papers, sure it’s the right thing to do, with Davina as notary. He asks if Old Hickey survived.
The novel returns to the epistolary form in its last pages, resuming the letters between Roy and Celestial. Roy’s first letter makes it clear that he and Celestial are now officially divorced. He expresses regret over his actions, providing his reasoning for having fought Andre in the way he did. Despite Old Hickey’s being a symbol of the love between Andre and Celestial, he asks after it’s well-being, showing that Roy and Celestial have found a way to accept their situation.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Celestial writes to Roy that she hopes they can get to know each other again some day. She tells Roy that she and Andre are in no rush to get married and are happy the way they are. Celestial doesn’t want to be a wife and Dre doesn’t want to marry a woman who doesn’t want to be a wife. She tells Roy they had a specialist come look at Old Hickey, who said the tree was 128 years old and that it should survive. She tells Roy she is pregnant, adding she hasn’t forgotten what they went through years ago and asking if Roy will pray for her.
Celestial’s statement that she hopes she and Roy might get to know each another indicates an understanding that they both are quite different people than they were before Roy went to jail. The survival of Old Hickey reflects the strength of Celestial’s relationship with Andre. Celestial does want a child after all, but is finally able to have the child on her own terms.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Roy writes to say he and Davina are getting married. They’re not trying to have a baby. He’d like to be a father, but Davina has a troubled son and doesn’t want to start over. Roy doesn’t want to risk what he has with Davina for a dream that might not fit him any longer. Roy tells Celestial he will pray for her family. He tells her he goes to the spot under the bridge each morning to pray and that he and Big Roy have gone into business as barbers. He prays that she will find peace, something “you have to make” yourself. These are words of wisdom from Walter, whom Roy still visits. His life is good, though a different version of good that he expected. When he talks about picking up and leaving Eloe, Davina smiles knowing he won’t ever leave and he smiles back. He finally feels like he is home.
Roy has decided to start a new life with Davina. He has adjusted his professional goals, finding contentment in a simpler life in which he gets to work with his father back in his hometown. Though the aspirational side that wants to leave Eloe still lives inside of him, Davina is able to take his big talk in stride, knowing the strength of their bond and that they’ve created a solid home together. Roy’s final letter reflects an acceptance that neither he nor Celestial can completely control their fates, but that it is still within their own power to find happiness.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon