In Homegoing, water symbolizes the pain and suffering of slavery and racism, and specifically how slavery violently uproots people from their homes. This association begins when Esi is sent from the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) on a ship to America, and many people on the boats throw themselves into the water rather than submit to slavery. Ma Aku, Kojo, and other characters in America, water and ships become associated with the slave trade and the systems that brought them to America in the first place. At the end of the novel, Marcus is terrified of the water and refuses to learn to swim, causing him to forgo many pool parties with friends. Thus, this fear of water, passed down from generation to generation, represents how institutional racism can affect people even several generations later. In the final pages, however, there is hope for progress, as Marjorie and Marcus travel back to Ghana together. She invites him to swim in the ocean with her and welcomes him home to Ghana, helping Marcus to overcome his fear and simultaneously attempting to bridge the gap between their two families and make amends for the injustice that his family had faced.
Water and Boats Quotes in Homegoing
He loved the look of those boats, loved that his hands helped build and maintain them, but Ma Aku always said it was bad juju, him and all the other freed Negroes working on ships. She said there was something evil about them building up the things that had brought them to America in the first place, the very things that had tried to drag them under.
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.