Describe how a marriage

Describe how a marriage is a match between two clans, and how Assia’s marriage was brokered. What role did the women play?

Marriage, according to the chapter, “The Promise” is a match between two clans. It’s a promise that not only commits the two people involved, but their families as well. Basically, family members are united by blood and marriage. This is a binding bond that can’t be broken because it impacts everyone in the family (Olson, & Defrain, 2013). It’s difficult to imagine what would happen if this happened in today’s society between two people who might not have any connection or ties to one another. In many cultures and countries, families have binding customs when it comes to marriage. The match-making process starts with the prospective bridegroom’s family go through his/her extended family for prospective brides (this is known as “arranged marriages”) (Dixon, 2017). They then go through their social circle for potential wives.

Assia’s marriage in this chapter was brokered by her father and step-mother. In other words, Assia’s step-mother was the matchmaker. Assia’s father (a wealthy landowner) had been looking for a young woman from a wealthy family to marry his daughter. As a result of this, he takes Assia on a trip to Rumelia (a region in the Balkan Peninsula). They go to Istanbul for shopping and then return to Prizren for her engagement with Selim Bey. Assia was of marriageable age when she entered into her arranged marriage (the legal age at the time was 14 years old). She was of age to get married and have children. However, she gets married when she is ten years old. Her marriage takes place when her father takes her to Istanbul for shopping. In the second chapter, Assia states that it was a “”love match”.”

On their way back from their trip to Istanbul, they are notified that Selim Bey (the man who is going to marry Assia) has recently returned from a six year long trip around the world and his friends were waiting for them at the Prizrens’ home to celebrate his return. This is where Selim and Assia meet for the first time. The role of women in a marriage, in the chapter “The Promise”, is to serve the men of the clan. Their duty is to obey their husbands and to bear children for them. In this case, Assia’s mother was a servant in her husband’s home but also had to act as a wife and daughter-in-law by serving the family.

Women do not have the right to decide what marriage partner they wish in “The Promise”. This duty is left in the hands of their parents or guardians, which means that an arranged marriage has more control over these women than they originally should have. This occurs with many daughters from wealthy families, who are expected by tradition to marry within their social circle (in this case Assia). Assia’s mother, who was a servant in her husband’s home, had little say when it came to how long she stayed there or how she gave birth to her children. Her job was to do as she was told and act accordingly as instructed (Ayisi, 1992). Furthermore, women were not even allowed to choose the color of their dresses or jewelry in the case of Assia. She wore what was selected by her step-mother and father based on their personal preferences.


Ayisi, E. O. (1992). An introduction to the study of African culture. East African Publishers.

Dixon, P. (2017). African American relationships, marriages, and families. Routledge.

Olson, D. H., & Defrain, J. (2013). Marriages and families. McGraw-Hill US Higher Ed USE.