Transcendent Kingdom


Yaa Gyasi

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Transcendent Kingdom: Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Gifty recalls her family’s story. Her father, the Chin Chin Man, met her mother buying food from her grandmother’s cart. Her mother was 31 when they married, because God told her to wait for the right man. But she had trouble getting pregnant, and she wondered if, like Sarai in the Bible verse, she was too “worn out” to have a baby. But after her mother fasted and prayed for three days, Gifty’s father “lay” with her and nine months later, Nana was born.
Gifty tells her family’s history with borrowed biblical language (such as the euphemism of “laying together” for sex) and stories. This points to the Pentecostal faith in which she was raised, in which the events of one’s life were meant to be interpreted almost exclusively through a biblical lens. Importantly, however, the biblical language pertains to her parents’ lives together before Gifty’s birth, suggesting the separation between their deeply held faith and her own lapsed Christian beliefs. Gifty reads her parents’ story through the story of Abram and Sarai in the Hebrew Bible (and Christian Old Testament) to whom God promised many descendants through a son born in their old age.
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Everyone adored Nana. The Chin Chin Man was happy in Kumasi, but her mother wanted to go to America. After some arguing, he relented, and she applied for a green card. She took Nana with her to Alabama to stay with a cousin who was getting a PhD until she had enough money to buy a plane ticket for him.
In the Bible story, God also gave Abram and Sarai a promised land. For Gifty’s mother, the promised land is America, although from her adult perspective, Gifty knows that the family will only find dissolution and trauma there.
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