The Adem people believe that:

  1. Men have nothing to do with conception;
  2. Sex is not restricted to specific partners.

In our culture, those are the main reasons for marriage. There were also no married couples shown in the book.

Do the Adem marry, and if they do, why?

  • I don't think so, but can't say for certain – Shokhet Mar 17 '17 at 16:46
  • 2
    Same question on Reddit. It seems like this is left pretty open and there are several contradictory speculations. – Rand al'Thor Mar 19 '17 at 21:52

They probably have something similar, but it is unclear.

They have no concept of fatherhood:

“Do you truly believe a man puts a baby in a woman?”

“Well . . . yes,” I said a little awkwardly. “In a manner of speaking. It takes a man and a woman to make a baby. A mother and a father.”

“You have a word for it!”

Chapter 127, Wise Man's Fear

To them, sex and love are explicitly separate:

“What of love?”

Vashet laughed again then, loud and long and vastly amused. Half of Haert must have heard it, and it echoed back to us from the distant hills. “You barbarians, ” she said, wiping moisture from her eyes. “I had forgotten how backward you are. My poet king was the same way. It took him a long, miserable time before he realized the truth of things: There is a great deal of difference between a penis and a heart.”

Chapter 124, Wise Man's Fear

There is another scene, too long to truly quote here, in which Vashet tells Kvothe that he can go after Penthe, even though Vashet and Kvothe have been sexually intimate. Though this might seem like Penthe was in love with Kvothe, except for this quote by Vashet:

“All she is looking for is sexplay. There is no harm in it.”

Chapter 124, Wise Man's Fear

For the Adem, music is very private and intimate. This quote from Vashet does include the fact that a woman and a man might be partners:

Vashet nodded gravely. “A family might sing together if they are close. A mother might sing to her child. A woman might sing to her man.” A slight flush rose on Vashet’s cheeks as she said this. “But only if they are very much in love, and very much alone.

Chapter 113, Wise Man's Fear

Vashet does at one point call sex "Loveplay" in WMF chap. 113. Additionally, one of the previous owners of Kvothe's sword is cited as "Finol of the clear and shining eye, much beloved of Dulcen." (WMF chap. 125).

The Adem do have a concept of love, and maybe a concept of people in love being "partners", though not necessarily sexual partners. They may not have the specific rituals that define "marriage", but they probably have something close to it.

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