An American Marriage


Tayari Jones

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on An American Marriage makes teaching easy.

An American Marriage: Part 3, Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Andre sleeps on the couch and Big Roy on his recliner chair, as if Andre needs to be watched to prevent him escaping back to Atlanta. As Andre is falling asleep, Big Roy asks if Andre wants kids. Andre says yes, and Big Roy says Roy wants children, too, and that he deserves “that new beginning.” Andre says he isn’t sure Celestial wants kids and Big Roy speculates that she just thinks she doesn’t. Big Roy mentions that Olive had been afraid that if Big Roy had biological children of his own, he would forget about Roy, and so she had her tubes tied without even asking him.
Big Roy equates having children with a new start in life. The conversation between him and Andre shows the many assumptions that are made about the decision to have children, and the compromises that must occur when people have differing opinions on the topic. This reflects the novel’s broader theme of the responsibilities and seriousness of parenthood.
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Parenthood as a Choice Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
In the morning, Big Roy tells Andre that Andre wants Celestial, but he doesn’t need her like Roy does. Big Roy recommends that Andre stay away for a year, and then if Celestial still wants him, Big Roy won’t object. Andre claims he does need her, but Big Roy responds Andre doesn’t know what need is. Andre says Big Roy doesn’t have the right to talk to him like this. He asks if he has to go to jail to have a right to be happy, but Big Roy says Andre needs to understand that Roy is his only son.
Andre resents the fact that, because he hasn’t been to jail, people are making it seem as though he doesn’t have as much a right to happiness as Roy, whom everyone pities for the wrongs that have been done to him. Big Roy, meanwhile, reaffirms the bond between father and son in an attempt to help Andre understand why he is fighting for Roy’s chance to be with Celestial.
Love and Marriage in Crisis Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
The Effects of Incarceration Theme Icon
Race and Class Theme Icon