Fire represents the pain that plagues the characters on the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) due to their family’s participation in the slave trade. Many of the characters are afraid of fire or are haunted by it. For example, Maame abandons her daughter Effia in the Fante village on the night she is born because of a raging fire, catalyzing a series of events that allows Effia to remain on the Gold Coast and eventually participate in the slave trade, while her sister, Esi, is eventually sold into slavery. Later in the novel, spurred by watching a white man tied to a tree and burned, Akua dreams of a woman made of fire holding two children. This dream ties back to Maame and her two daughters, representing how the slave trade destroyed one line of the family tree and cursed the other line. In her madness, Akua sets fire to her own hut, killing two of her children and permanently scarring her son, Yaw. At the end of the novel, Marjorie (Akua’s granddaughter) is also afraid of fire, but overcomes this fear with Marcus’s help, while she in turn helps him overcome his fear of water. The inheritance of this fear of fire mirrors the guilt and pain that the family passes down to each generation due to their participation in the slave trade.
Fire Quotes in Homegoing
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.