Homegoing

by

Yaa Gyasi

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Effia Character Analysis

Effia is the daughter of Cobbe Otcher and Maame. Growing up in a Fante village on the Gold Coast, Effia does not know that she is Maame’s daughter. She is raised by Cobbe’s wife, Baaba, who is resentful of having to raise Effia and beats her often. Baaba conspires to have Effia marry the British officer James Collins even though Cobbe would prefer that Effia marry the village’s future chief, Abeeku Badu. Luckily, Effia and James Collins develop a good deal of affection for each other, but Effia is remains uncomfortable with James Collins’ participation in the slave trade. Still, she knows that she cannot return to her village because of Baaba’s cruelty, so she stays with James Collins and has a son, Quey, with him. Effia’s implicit acceptance of the slave trade and her unwitting betrayal of her half-sister Esi, who is sold from the dungeon of the castle in which Effia lives, haunts her branch of the family for seven generations. Her final descendant in the novel is Marjorie.

Effia Quotes in Homegoing

The Homegoing quotes below are all either spoken by Effia or refer to Effia. 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 1: Effia Quotes

He knew then that the memory of the fire that burned, then fled, would haunt him, his children, and his children’s children for as long as the line continued.

Related Characters: Effia, Maame, Baaba, Cobbe Otcher
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:

The need to call this thing “good” and this thing “bad,” this thing “white” and this thing “black,” was an impulse that Effia did not understand.

Related Characters: Effia, James Collins, Adwoa
Page Number: 23
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1: Quey Quotes

Quey had wanted to cry but that desire embarrassed him. He knew that he was one of the half-caste children of the Castle, and, like the other half-caste children, he could not fully claim either half of himself, neither his father's whiteness nor his mother’s blackness. Neither England nor the Gold Coast.

Page Number: 56
Explanation and Analysis:

This was how they lived there, in the bush: Eat or be eaten. Capture or be captured. Marry for protection. Quey would never go to Cudjo's village. He would not be weak. He was in the business of slavery, and sacrifices had to be made.

Related Characters: Effia, Quey, James Collins, Nana Yaa, Cudjo Sackee, Fiifi
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Akua Quotes

In her dreams the fire was shaped like a woman holding two babies to her heart. The firewoman would carry these two little girls with her all the way to the woods of the Inland and then the babies would vanish, and the firewoman’s sadness would send orange and red and hints of blue swarming every tree and every bush in sight.

Related Characters: Effia, Esi, Akua / Crazy Woman , Maame
Related Symbols: Fire
Page Number: 177
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Marjorie Quotes

Her father had told her that the necklace was a part of their family history and she was to never take it off, never give it away. Now it reflected the ocean water before them, gold waves shimmering in the black stone.

Related Characters: Effia, Akua / Crazy Woman , Yaw, Marjorie, Maame
Related Symbols: Black Stones, Water and Boats
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Marcus Quotes

How could he explain to Marjorie that he wasn’t supposed to be here? Alive. Free. That the fact that he had been born, that he wasn’t in a jail cell somewhere, was not by dint of his pulling himself up by the bootstraps, not by hard work or belief in the American Dream, but by mere chance.

Related Characters: Effia, Esi, Marjorie, Marcus
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Homegoing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Homegoing PDF

Effia Character Timeline in Homegoing

The timeline below shows where the character Effia appears in Homegoing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Effia
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
The night Effia is born, a fire is raging through the woods in Fanteland. It moves through the... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
The villagers say that Effia had been born of that fire, and that was why Baaba had no milk. Effia... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Effia grows older. When Effia is three, Baaba has a son named Fiifi. The first day... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...Baaba fight into the night, and he beats her for the cruel way she treated Effia. This begins a cycle: Baaba beats Effia; Cobbe beats Baaba. (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
When Effia turns twelve, she begins to blossom into a young woman. The men of the village... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...from a British soldier. The first time the soldier visits the village, Adwoa’s mother asks Effia’s parents to show him around the village. Effia tags along. (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
When Effia meets the soldier, she hides behind Cobbe’s leg, as she has never seen a white... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
A few weeks later, the officer returns to pay his respects to Adwoa’s mother. Effia and the other villagers gather to see the goods that he has brought: fifteen pounds... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Cobbe then pulls Effia aside, explaining that the white men bring those goods to trade with the village, and... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Effia hopes that she will be married to Abeeku Badu, who is next in line to... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Abeeku brings a goat for Effia, while his servants bring yams and fish and palm wine. She had prepared herself for... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
When the dinner begins, Effia asks if Abeeku will work for the British. Her parents glare at her for speaking... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Effia nods and stays quiet, which she notes pleases Baaba. She has come to realize that... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Abeeku finishes eating and tells Baaba to let him know when Effia is “ready.” That night, Baaba tells Effia that when her menstrual blood comes, she must... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...wife and two children with a significant amount of wealth. Millicent and her mother visit Effia often, saying that they would soon be part of the same family. (full context)
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Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Two days after Effia’s fifteenth birthday, she has her first menstrual period. She tells Baaba, who tells Effia to... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Effia asks Baaba what they’re doing, but Baaba tells her that it does not concern her.... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...new machete, and shouts that they will make the village “rich with blood.” That night, Effia crawls over to Fiifi in their hut, and asks what they are planning. Fiifi at... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...the days following the chief ceremony, Cobbe continues to ask Baaba what is happening with Effia, as he had hoped that she would be Abeeku’s wife by now. Baaba replies that... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
On one such visit to Abeeku’s compound, Baaba and Effia are there at the same time as British soldiers. When the soldiers tour the compound,... (full context)
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
...the soldiers, James Collins, says hello to each woman in bad Fante. When he reaches Effia, she giggles. He asks Abeeku if Effia is his wife; Abeeku tells him she is... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...of the Cape Coast Castle. Within a week, he comes back to ask Baaba for Effia’s hand. Cobbe is outraged because he wants her to marry Abeeku, but Baaba convinces him... (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
...tells Baaba that they must make Abeeku think that it is his own idea for Effia to marry James Collins. To do so, Baaba tells Abeeku that there is evil in... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Abeeku calls Effia into the room, and tells Baaba and Cobbe that they are right—Effia should marry James... (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
Effia is married in the chapel of the Cape Coast Castle, reciting words she doesn’t understand.... (full context)
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James Collins tries to make Effia comfortable, learning more and more Fante words so that he can tell her how beautiful... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Effia notices a breeze coming up from holes in the floor. She asks what’s below, and... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
James Collins leads Effia up to his quarters on the top floor. She can see out onto the ocean,... (full context)
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James Collins leads her to the bed, and he and Effia consummate their marriage. Baaba had told Effia what was expected of her, but James seems... (full context)
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After a few weeks, Effia feels very comfortable in her new routine. She likes the attention that James Collins pays... (full context)
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Effia has also heard the Englishmen call her and other Fante women “wenches” instead of wives,... (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
One day, Effia asks about James Collins’s British wife. He explains that her name is Anne. They married... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
On this night, however, James Collins tells Effia that he wants children with her. Effia cringes in worry. First, she thinks she may... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Effia recalls a story that the villagers used to tell in which a young girl had... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Effia knows that the village tells the story to warn children about hot oil, but she... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Effia and Adwoa, the other girl from her village who had married a British soldier, become... (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
When James Collins arrives home that evening, Effia pounces on him. He grows excited by her seduction, but when the two finish, he... (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
The next day, Effia tells Adwoa what had happened. Adwoa grows frustrated that the British men don’t understand the... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Soon after, Dutch officers visit the Castle. That afternoon, Effia and other Fante women at the Castle sit in the shade of a tree. One... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
...just like them. The other women grow quiet, as they never speak about the dungeons. Effia realizes that even though she knows that there are slaves in the dungeon, she had... (full context)
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In the spring, Effia realizes she is pregnant. James Collins is thrilled at the news. But soon after, they... (full context)
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Effia and a house girl travel to Effia’s village. Baaba stands in the entranceway when she... (full context)
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Fiifi then reveals that Baaba is not Effia’s mother. Effia is actually the child of Cobbe and a house girl (Maame) who ran... (full context)
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Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Fiifi steps outside, and Cobbe takes his last breath. Effia thinks that Fiifi’s revelation allowed Cobbe to pass on his unrest to her so that... (full context)
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Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
As Effia leaves, she starts to apologize to Baaba for the burden that Cobbe made her carry... (full context)
Part 1: Quey
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Quey lies awake in the village where his mother, Effia, grew up. He pictures the prisoners being brought into the cellars by the tens and... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
...because he knew the language and customs, even though Quey had never stepped foot in Effia’s village. (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
...was born, James had built a hut close to the Castle so that he and Effia could live more comfortably. Trade had been prosperous in those days, but Quey never saw... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Effia is a patient and loving mother, in an attempt to be as little like Baaba... (full context)
Colonization Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Quey laments that their family is so small, unlike the other families. Effia worries that he has no friends and doesn’t play with the other village children, but... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...sees Abeeku Badu in the village, already drunk. Abeeku tells Quey that he should tell Effia to visit. Quey doubts she would visit, as she still feels that there is evil... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Fiifi goes on to say, however, that Effia is not the daughter of his mother. Furthermore, because Baaba had hated her, Fiifi had... (full context)
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...leave what he has to Quey, to make up for the way that Baaba treated Effia. Fiifi tells Quey that tomorrow night he will marry Nana Yaa, so that the Asante... (full context)
Part 1: James
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...of Abeeku Badu’s successor. This marriage would fulfill the promise that Cobbe had made to Effia; that her blood would be joined with the blood of Fante royals. (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Thinking this, James remembers the phrase “nothing from nowhere,” and how Effia used to say it on nights that she was saddest. When he was a small... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...to want to escape it. He has all but resolved to continue Quey’s work when Effia visits. (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
One night at dinner, Effia asks James what’s wrong. He tells her quietly that he wants to leave the village.... (full context)
Part 1: Abena
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Abena resolves to leave. Before she goes, James gives her Effia’s black stone necklace. He tells her that his father had been a slaver, but that... (full context)
Part 2: Yaw
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
...school for answers about her mother, she had been able to get back one thing: Effia’s stone pendant. (full context)
Part 2: Marjorie
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Marjorie and Akua go to the beach together, and Akua notes that Marjorie is wearing Effia’s stone necklace. Akua explains that their family began here, in Cape Coast. She has come... (full context)