Yaa Gyasi

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Themes and Colors
Heritage and Identity Theme Icon
Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression Theme Icon
Colonization Theme Icon
Family and Progress Theme Icon
Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Homegoing, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Heritage and Identity

Homegoing’s premise explores African and African-American heritage and culture through a period of several centuries, as the book follows the descendants of Effia and Esi, two daughters of an Asante woman (from the Ashanti region of Ghana) named Maame. Each woman represents one of these two cultures, and how the disastrous consequences of European colonialism and American slavery changed and defined them. Effia marries a colonial British official named James Collins and…

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Racism, Slavery, and Systemic Oppression

Racism plays a major role in Homegoing for both sides of the book’s family tree, but it most strongly affects Esi’s descendants as they are subjected to a series of racist institutions in America. At the beginning of the novel, racism serves as the backbone of (and one of the many justifications for) slavery in America, but when slavery is abolished, racism continues to fester. One of the main goals of the novel is…

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Homegoing begins with the introduction of British colonizers on the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana). Though colonialism plays into and is an extension of racism, the novel also shows it as a means of dividing those who have been colonized in order to benefit the white colonizers. The book argues that not only is there immense harm done to those who are enslaved and sent to America (like Esi’s descendants), but also that colonization…

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Family and Progress

The connective tissue of Homegoing’s fourteen chapters lies in a single family tree, starting with Maame and her two daughters, Effia and Esi. Structuring the story in this way reveals the importance of family, especially the relationship between parents and children. Children in the novel allow families to continue and progress, and so for many families and parents, children provide hope for a future and a better life.

Throughout the novel, parents work…

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Gender Stereotypes, Sexism, and Violence

The primary form of inequality explored in Homegoing is racial inequality, but throughout the novel, Gyasi also reveals the ways in which racism intersects with gender. For both men and women, rigid gender stereotypes become a large factor in the way that they are violently oppressed: for women, the patriarchal societies on both the Gold Coast (modern-day Ghana) and in America lead to a lack of autonomy and sexual violation; for men, assumptions of strength…

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