An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage: Part 2, Chapter 7 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Back in the present Roy looks at his family bible, which contains a small family tree that does not include Celestial’s name. At Walmart Roy runs into Davina Hardrick, a woman with deep Eloe roots whom he remembers from high school. Davina invites Roy over for dinner. He arrives early, saying hello through the door, and she asks for a moment to fix her hair. He looks at the streets so familiar to him from his childhood, but they don’t feel like home. 
Celestial’s absence from the family bible suggests that Olive and Big Roy never accepted her as a permanent part of the family. Roy, hungry for socialization, accepts Davina’s invitation, though it’s clear that she has more romantic intentions than he does. Roy reflects that Eloe no longer feels like home, suggesting how much his time in prison has changed him.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
When Davina finally invites him in, Roy admires her figure. She asks if he’s still married and he replies that he doesn’t know. Siting with Davina, Roy thinks of his wife. He recalls the time she found a receipt for two pieces of lingerie, having only received one. He’d resolved the situation by promising Celestial that he loved only her.
Despite admiring Davina’s figure, Roy remains preoccupied with Celestial and reminded of what can be assumed to be a time he was caught cheating. His excuse implies that he loved Celestial while still feeling desire for other women.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Davina reveals that her father ran off before she was five years old. Looking out the window at the house next door, Roy recalls his French teacher, Mr. Fontenot, who once lived there and with whom Roy grew close. He promised to help sponsor a trip to Paris for Roy if he learned the language and also gave him a book by James Baldwin. Three things prevented Roy from going on the trip, however: Big Roy thought him being the only black kid in the group could cause trouble, the cost was still too high, and Mr. Fontenot was gay; Roy’s parents worried he was taking too much of an interest in Roy. Roy asks Davina what happened to Mr. Fontenot and she replies that he passed away in the early nineties, and that Roy knows how.
Davina’s father having run off echoes both Roy and Andre’s experiences with their biological fathers. Roy’s story of the school trip reveals more ways in which his race and class limited his opportunities growing up. James Baldwin was a famed black writer and social critic who was also gay. Despite Mr. Fontenot supporting Roy’s intellectual development, Roy’s parents’ discomfort with their bond underscores the prevalence of homophobia in their community.  Davina implies that the teacher died from AIDS complications.
Themes
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Roy tries to say a blessing before the meal, but he chokes up and Davina takes over. She simply says, “Bon appétit,” and Roy again thinks of Celestial, who always said the same. Davina asks for a third time if Roy is still married. Roy tells her that he was married when he went to jail and that Celestial hasn’t divorced him, but that he hasn’t seen her in two years. She asks Roy if he knew her son Antoine Guillory when he was in prison. Roy says no, but then Davina mentions his nickname, Hopper. Roy remembers a young man named Hopper, but again says he didn’t know him.
The fact that the attempt to say grace, a prayer of thanks, chokes up Roy indicates the difficulty of being thankful in a moment where so much hardship is still being worked through. Despite Davina’s hospitality, Roy can’t get his mind off Celestial. Roy keeps his knowledge of Hopper a secret from Davina because he doesn’t want to spoil the evening by telling her that her son is having a hard time in jail.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Get the entire An American Marriage LitChart as a printable PDF.
Davina tells Roy that she won’t pour him another drink because the area has become dangerous and she doesn’t want him walking home drunk, but Roy insists he can hold his own after where he’s been. She pours them another drink, puts on some music and sits on the couch with him. She asks if he is okay and he says he is not. She consoles him, and he leans in to kiss her. They go to bed and apologize to one another for what they’ve lost: a son and a mother. Roy senses the pity in her making love to a man newly out of jail, and he wishes for his old power, as a young man on the rise. In her arms, however, Roy feels taken care of. She calls him “baby” and he asks if she has a condom. Then he begs her not to wear it and Davina relents, telling him she’s safe.
Davina’s care for Roy is evident in her initial refusal to make him another drink. When Davina asks if Roy is ok, he finally breaks down, finding an opportunity to be vulnerable with someone. Roy feels emasculated by his time in prison, but he appreciates the kindness that Davina shows him, allowing him to lower his guards. Davina’s treatment of Roy like a baby echoes the baby dolls that Celestial makes with Roy’s likeness.
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