Homegoing

by

Yaa Gyasi

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Homegoing can help.

Carson / Sonny Character Analysis

Carson is Robert Clifton and Willie’s son. Carson is initially resentful of Willie because she gives him no information about his father, who split up with Willie after violating her in a jazz club bathroom to please a white man. Carson goes in and out of schools, then prisons as he joins the Civil Rights movement. At the beginning of his chapter, he works for the NAACP but becomes desperate to make a change in his life when he sees how downtrodden the people in Harlem are. He then finds a job in a jazz club and meets Amani, who introduces him to dope. He becomes an addict and has a son with Amani named Marcus before eventually getting clean.

Carson / Sonny Quotes in Homegoing

The Homegoing quotes below are all either spoken by Carson / Sonny or refer to Carson / Sonny. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of Homegoing published in 2017.
Part 2: Willie Quotes

How she could put his skin to good use, be less cautious if she were him. If she could, she would put her voice in his body, in his skin.

Related Characters: Willie, Carson / Sonny, Robert Clifton
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Sonny Quotes

He was mad at her because he didn’t have a father, and she was mad at him because he’d become as absent as his own.

Related Characters: Willie, Carson / Sonny, Robert Clifton
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

“We can’t go back to something we ain’t never been to in the first place. It ain’t ours anymore. This is.” She swept her hand in front of her, as though she were trying to catch all of Harlem in it, all of New York, all of America.

Related Characters: Amani Zulema (speaker), Carson / Sonny
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Homegoing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Homegoing PDF

Carson / Sonny Character Timeline in Homegoing

The timeline below shows where the character Carson / Sonny appears in Homegoing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: Willie
Colonization Theme Icon
...back of a church on a Saturday, coming straight from cleaning a house. Her son, Carson, is sitting in the pews, bored. Willie practices singing with the choir, humming the alto... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Afterwards, Willie and Carson leave the church. It is a cold fall day, and they walk down the streets... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...By sixteen they are dating, by eighteen they are married, and by twenty they have Carson. (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
A month after Carson’s birth, H passes away. A month later, Ethe dies as well, and Willie is inconsolable.... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
The morning after they move in, Willie and Robert leave Carson and walk around Harlem to find jobs. They notice a hiring sign in a store... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...the job and tells Robert that the Morrises need her on night duty. However, when Carson begins to call the woman who watches him “Mama,” Robert tells her that she doesn’t... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
After that day, Joe offers to marry Willie, but she can’t bear it. She and Carson leave in the middle of the night and find a place the next morning. Carson... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Willie instead goes to church, where she meets Eli. He offers Carson an apple, and the three of them take a walk together. He tells her that... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...to be angry but doesn’t want to make the same mistake she did with Robert. Carson asks if Eli has any apples. He has started to look more and more like... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...jobs trying to take Josephine with her, and so she starts to leave Josephine with Carson, whom she cannot keep in school. They’re evicted three times in six months. When Josephine... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Back on the street when Carson is eating his ice cream, Willie nears the edge of Harlem. Seeing so many white... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Carson tells her that they can cross the street. Willie smiles at Robert, and really forgives... (full context)
Part 2: Sonny
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Sonny uses the hours in jail before his mother bails him out to read through The... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Willie asks how many times he has to end up in jail, but Sonny is frustrated, too. He has spent hours marching, countless nights in jail cells, and endured... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Sonny is on the housing team at the NAACP, and once a week he goes to... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Sonny had been arrested during march after march, and punched in the face when he had... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
One day, Sonny is sitting on a bench with the man who sweeps the barbershops on Seventh. He... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Sonny stays with Willie between jobs. His friend Mohammed tells him that he should join the... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
At the Jazzmine, Sonny quickly becomes head bartender. One night, he meets a woman named Amani Zulema. After she... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Sonny moves in with some people he knows in the projects on the East Side. He... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Sonny is frustrated. He hadn’t wanted children, but he had ended up with three: Angela’s daughter,... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
When Angela had given birth to their daughter, Sonny was only fifteen. He had wanted to marry her, but her parents had sent her... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Two days later, Sonny is back at the Jazzmine, asking when Amani will be back. One of the men... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Amani leads Sonny into the street. He asks her about her name; she says it means “harmony” in... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Time passes. Sonny wakes up from one of his stupors, hearing Willie call out his name. He feels... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
When Sonny arrives home, Amani asks where he’s been, explaining that Willie had come by. Sonny eats... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Sonny keeps a bag of dope in his shoe as reassurance as he walks to Willie’s... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
...answers the door at dinner, telling him that he’s an hour and a half late. Sonny eats as Josephine and Willie watch, before Josephine leaves them to talk. Willie starts to... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Willie goes on to say that Sonny had been an angry child, because he was born to a man who could choose... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...pulls out a wad of cash and tells him to take it if he wants. Sonny wants to take the money, scream, and find somewhere to shoot up the dope in... (full context)
Part 2: Marcus
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Marcus doesn’t care for water; the ocean had always nauseated him. His father, Sonny, had told him that black people didn’t like water because they were brought over on... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Marcus always saw Sonny’s brilliance, but knew that it was “trapped underneath something.” In the mornings when Marcus was... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Marcus calls Sonny every Sunday, checking in and making sure everything is okay. Sonny tells Marcus his mother,... (full context)