An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage: Part 2, Chapter 4 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Celestial reflects that love stories like hers aren’t supposed to happen anymore. She thinks back to when she was younger, living in New York City, sure that it had become the norm for black people to date people of other races, to the point that it was almost uncommon for two black people to be in a romantic relationship. In flashback she tells the story of waiting tables and studying art in grad school while Roy was living in Atlanta working a cubicle job that required travel. One day, Celestial waits on a large table that includes a young man whom she thinks will hit on her. Roy is the only black person at the table, and, thinking him to be “that kind of brother,” behaves coolly towards him. He believes he hears her accent, but the rest of the table of Georgians think she sounds like a northerner. Upon realizing Roy is there on business, Celestial softens toward him.
Knowing Roy is coming home soon, Celestial reflects on their history. She thinks about how special it was to connect with someone she’d known when she was younger and to find a young, professional black man. Her initial judgment of Roy reflects her belief that, by surrounding himself with white people, Roy was implicitly rejecting his own racial identity. Upon learning that this is not the case—that the arrangement is strictly business—she is able to relax. The fact that Roy’s colleagues are all white further suggests that difficulty and isolation of being a young black professional at the time.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Roy asks if Celestial went to Spelman and introduces himself as Roy, her Morehouse brother. He asks her name, and when he says his own middle name, Celestial remembers who he is. They talk to each other outside the restaurant that night. Back in the present, Celestial reflects that they were both alone and adrift, and they both reminded each other of Atlanta.
This scene provides backstory for Roy’s pet name for Celestial, “Georgia.” Celestial reasons that their attraction had to do with their reminding each other of home, an observation that indicates that she might have fallen for someone else from Atlanta if she’d met that person instead—maybe even Andre.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon