An American Marriage

by

Tayari Jones

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An American Marriage: Part 3, Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Tamar is leaving with Jelani, Celestial imagines that Tamar is Roy and Celestial’s successful daughter. When Celestial takes out her phone, Roy asks her not to call Andre yet so that he can speak his piece. He guides her hands around his face, asking if she recognizes him, and she nods and kisses his hands. He leads her through the house and understands why Andre raced out of town to see Roy first, to prevent her from making love to him. Celestial reflects that she is going along more out of a sense of duty and pity than love. As Roy leads her to the bedroom and removes her clothes, she feels that he is a stranger.
Rather than imagining Jelani as her own child, Celestial imagines a future in which she and Roy had a daughter who is as lovely and accomplished as Tamar. Even so, her and Roy’s instincts are the same: to imagine a life that could have been, but that they cannot have. Despite still having affection for Roy, Celestial’s physical discomfort reflects that the relationship has been forever altered.
Themes
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Celestial asks Roy if he has a condom and Roy is disheartened by the question. She tells him they need protection and traces a scar on his ribs where, he tells her, he was stabbed. He begs her to trust him, telling her how he accidentally killed a man by selling him a garbage bag. When he confesses that he is in pain, Celestial says she can tell. He asks if she’s reluctant because she believes he has an STD or because she doesn’t want to get pregnant. She doesn’t answer and braces herself for what she feels has been inevitable since Roy entered the house. He tells her he could “take it” if he wanted to, but he won’t.
Celestial ‘s insistence on a condom is upsetting to Roy because it suggests she doesn’t trust him. To gain her trust, he reveals his worst secret from his time away, and while Celestial sympathizes, she does not change her answer. In his anger, Roy threatens Celestial, implying he is strong enough to rape her, an outburst that could evidence increased aggression caused by Roy’s time in prison.
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
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