Homegoing

by

Yaa Gyasi

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Ness Character Analysis

Ness is the daughter of Esi and a British soldier, who raped Esi while she was imprisoned in the Cape Coast Castle’s dungeon. Soon after Esi arrives in America, Ness is born, and she spends her whole life on various plantations. She is taken away from her mother and sold to a plantation she calls “Hell,” where she is forced to marry to another slave named Sam. When she becomes pregnant and has a son, Kojo, she refuses to remain on the plantation and resolves to escape its brutality. Ness and Sam are caught, and Sam is hanged, but Kojo is able to make it out alive. Ness spends the rest of her life on Thomas Allan Stockham’s plantation.

Ness Quotes in Homegoing

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

“I did it,” Ness says. She has spent the night hidden in the left corner of the room, watching this man she's been told is her husband become the animal he's been told that he is.

Related Characters: Ness (speaker), Marcus, Sam, The Devil
Page Number: 80
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 1: Kojo Quotes

He would never truly know who his people were, and who their people were before them, and if there were stories to be heard about where he had come from, he would never hear them.

Related Characters: Esi, Ness, Kojo / Jo, Ma Aku, Sam, Anna
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:
Part 2: Yaw Quotes

“This is the problem of history. We cannot know that which we were not there to see and hear and experience for ourselves. We must rely upon the words of others […] We believe the one who has the power. He is the one who gets to write the story.”

Related Characters: Yaw (speaker), Esi, Ness
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Homegoing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Homegoing PDF

Ness Character Timeline in Homegoing

The timeline below shows where the character Ness appears in Homegoing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: Ness
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Ness is picking cotton in the heat of the southern summer sun. She has been at... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...relatively kind master, giving his slaves breaks and water. On this day, in late June, Ness waits in line for water beside another slave named TimTam. TimTam asks her how her... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Ness thinks to herself that it’s still odd to hear black people speak English. When they... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
TimTam asks Ness where she comes from, but Ness doesn’t respond. She instead gets her glass of water... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Ness feels she doesn’t owe her fellow slaves anything. Once a woman had told her not... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...change into the outfit for the house slaves, but when Tom and his wife saw Ness in the outfit, they were shocked to see that she had intricate scars all over... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
Thus, Ness had gone to work in the field. It’s not new to her. She had previously... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...she has what her mother had. The women tell him to go fetch a doctor. Ness looks at Pinky, and sees that she only has the hiccups. She says there’s nothing... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
TimTam pulls Ness aside, revealing that they were only trying to scare Pinky because she hadn’t spoken since... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
From that day, Pinky is inseparable from Ness. She moves into the women’s cabin and spends the whole day with Ness. Still, she... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
One day, Ness watches as the two Stockham children run into Pinky on the porch, knocking over one... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...well, goes to get Tom Allan. Just as Tom Jr. swings the cane behind him, Ness catches it in her hand so strongly that Tom Jr. falls to the ground. Tom... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
That evening, Ness crawls into bed with Pinky. She drifts off to sleep and into memory. She is... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
...and is whipped for that, too. One night, Sam destroys the slave quarters in fury. Ness says that she did it. The master, whom she calls the Devil, knows that she... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
A month later, once the wounds on Ness and Sam’s backs have healed, they consummate their marriage. As they clutch each other, their... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
In the morning, Ness awaits her fate. Tom Allan had never publicly whipped a slave before, but she knows... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Ness thinks about how she and Sam had spent so much time waiting. She had made... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Ness and Sam then met a woman named Aku at their church. Ness had been singing... (full context)
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Ness and Sam started planning to escape when Jo turned one year old. They waited until... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Days passed this way. One day, Ness asked Aku to take Jo for the night because her back was aching. That morning,... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
The Devil had asked where the boy was. Ness told him that Jo died. The Devil then took her and Sam back to Hell.... (full context)
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Now, as Ness awaits the punishment from Tom Allan, she can’t help but remember that day in Hell.... (full context)
Part 1: Kojo
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
...on her as he had done when he was a boy, crying for Sam and Ness. Even then, Jo had seen that he would never truly know who his people were.... (full context)