An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage: Part 2, Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Andre tells the story, in flashback, of when he was sixteen and thought his mother Evie was dying of lupus. Full of anger, he went to his father Carlos’s house to fight him. He was resentful to find Carlos showing more affection towards his half-brother than Andre ever received himself. After stopping Andre from hitting him, Carlos asked what his son wanted. Dre asked his father to say that he didn’t want Evie to die. Carlos said that of course he didn’t want that, and that Evie was a remarkable woman for many reasons—including raising Andre. Carlos sent her flowers in the hospital. After that, Andre and Carlos’s relationship improved.
This story provides insight into Andre’s complex feelings about his romantic relationship with Celestial when she is still technically committed to Roy. While there’s no child involved, Roy is in a vulnerable position, much like Andre and his mother were when his father left them. Though their relationship improved after Carlos showed support for Evie during her illness, Andre still didn’t feel as close to his father as did before he left.
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On his way to pick up Roy, Andre wishes he could talk to Carlos. He thinks about Mr. Davenport and how he’s been more loyal to Roy than to Celestial in this situation, and how this mirrors the whole black race’s support of Roy following his wrongful conviction. He even compares Roy to a “man just down from the cross.” When Andre ran into his father earlier that year, Carlos had said that Andre was welcome in his home any time, and Andre decides to take him up on this offer.
Andre’s comments suggest that Roy has become a martyr-like figure in the black community and a catalyst for broader activism. Having just informed us of his history with his dad and their less-than-perfect relationship, Andre still needs some fatherly advice. He knows that his surrogate father, Mr. Davenport, is devoted to Roy’s plight and will not listen to him openly.
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Andre stops at Carlos’s house and reminds him of what he’d said about visiting. Though Carlos is just getting dressed, he welcomes Andre, who spots the Christmas tree and knows that none of the gifts beneath it are for him. Carlos’s wife Jeanette asks Dre if he’ll join them for breakfast and he declines, calling her ma’am. Dre asks where the kids are, and Carlos says they’re away at college, Oberlin and Duke, arriving home that night.
Though Carlos seems at first put out by Andre’s arriving unannounced, he lets Andre in when Andre reminds him of his offer, showing that he has become a man of his word. Dre’s sense of being second to Carlos’s other kids is apparent in the way he eyes the gifts under the tree and resents that his children are allowed to go to any school they please.
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Andre tells Carlos that he’s getting married. His father asks who he’s marrying, and Andre is surprised he can’t guess it’s Celestial. Carlos asks about Roy, assuming he was guilty, and Andre defends him, informing Carlos that Roy has been released. Carlos says that it’s a bad idea for Andre to try to marry Celestial and Andre asks for advice about the decision he’s already made. Carlos defends his lack of contact with Andre, saying it was Evie who put Carlos out because he’d had an affair, and he needed to stay loyal to his new wife. 
Even Carlos seems surprised at the news that Andre has seen fit to propose to Celestial while she’s still married to Roy. This, however, isn’t the advice Andrew wants to hear from his father, who, in taking up with another woman while still married to Evie, took the opposite course in his own life.
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Carlos tells Andre that he has to be honest with Roy. Guessing that Roy will get physical, he advises Andre to take the blows and then get on with his life. Carlos wishes Andre well with Celestial. As Andre gets ready to go, Carlos tells him to come back on Christmas and they’ll have a gift for him under the tree. He adds that he never forgets about Andre and lifts the St. Christopher medal necklace off of his head to give to his son. He tells Andre that St. Christopher is for “safe travels and buena suerte for bachelors.” He regrets that Andre never got to meet his Puerto Rican grandmother, and forces the medal into Andre’s hand, squeezing his fingers so hard it hurts.
Aware now that Andre’s decision is made, Carlos offers the best advice he can. With Andre effectively in the wrong, he must accept Roy’s inevitable anger. Carlos takes off a medal that was given to him by his own mother in the hopes it will protect his son and give him good luck in his endeavor; this action is clearly emotionally painful for Carlos, whose comment about Andre not meeting his grandmother reveals Carlos’s regret about missing much of his son’s life.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
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