An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage: Part 3, Chapter 3 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Roy reminisces about collecting keys as a kid, which he thought about every day in prison. He drives into Atlanta and notes that there are no skyscrapers, only sky-reachers. He knows Celestial’s store is in the neighborhood he recommended she base it in. He drives there and looks at her store window from across the street for a while, reflecting that Celestial has worked hard and done well for herself. He sees Tamar and mistakes her for Celestial before realizing his error. He notes that Celestial has cut all of her hair off, and watches her help customers until he gets too cold and goes to take a nap in his car.
Roy’s thoughts about his childhood key collection reflect the intensity of his desperation to be free from prison. Despite the distance between them, he clearly respects and is proud of Celestial. Much like Celestial thinks she sees a ghost of Roy, Roy sees Tamar almost as a ghost of the Celestial he knew before he was incarcerated.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Roy returns to watch Celestial through the window as she helps the male customer. He thinks he feels her eyes on him eventually and tries to communicate to her to come outside, but Celestial looks away. Roy feels the keys in his pocket, one of which he hopes will let him into their home. When Mr. Davenport deeded the house to Celestial, he stipulated only that Old Hickey couldn’t be cut down. Though the house was only in Celestial’s name, she insisted it was a wedding gift to both of them.
While Roy and Celestial had previously been able to communicate almost telepathically because they knew one another so well, that is no longer the case. Thoughts of keys again return, this time drawing his focus to the housekeys in his pocket that he hopes will let him into his house, rather than out of his cell.
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