Transcendent Kingdom


Yaa Gyasi

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Transcendent Kingdom: Chapter 53 Summary & Analysis

Gifty is writing her paper in earnest now and making good progress. While she works, she listens to a mixtape Raymond made for their six-month anniversary, shortly before they broke up. She avoided Katherine for as long as she could, but finally caved in and accepted a lunch invitation. While they eat sushi, Katherine asks after Gifty’s mother. When Gifty avoids the question, Katherine asks about her journaling.
As Gifty works on concluding her experiments and this phase of her career, she listens to music that reminds her of her failed relationships. Although she tried to cut Katherine out like she did Anne and Raymond, Gifty hasn’t succeeded. In asking about Gifty’s mother, Katherine shows concern for Gifty and her life which Gifty initially refuses.
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
Gifty remembers re-reading all her old journal entries before she went to college. They embarrassed her, and she resolved to create a new Gifty for her adult life, one that didn’t talk about depressing things, like her mother and Nana.
But when Katherine brings up the journal, Gifty is forced to reckon with the ways that the choices she’s made have directed her life—and the ways in which they haven’t. In going to college, she tried to insulate herself from intimate relationships because the loss of her brother and the loss of connection with her brother were so painful to her. But she carried these traumas unavoidably with her, and her refusal to acknowledge them may have damaged her relationships far more than admitting them would have.
Self-Discovery, Identity, and Individuality Theme Icon
Her relationship with Raymond ended over her journal, too. After she realized he was secretly reading through it, she confessed in the journal that she was lying to him about planning their trip to Ghana. When he reached that entry, two weeks later, he confronted her. In the face of his hurt and disbelief, Gifty laughed. But it was a “mean and terrible” sound that scared them both; Raymond shivered like the baby bird. But Gifty couldn’t stop laughing; she couldn’t believe that she could shake her ghosts or stop ruining things. She let Raymond leave without a fight.
Gifty also remembers the end of her relationship with Raymond, which happened after he discovered that she was lying about their trip to Ghana. She never told him that she had a brother and doesn’t know how to break the news after months of evading the truth. Rather than face herself and her own painful past, she allows a second important and intimate relationship to come to an end over her inability to allow others to know her as she truly is—the good and the bad.
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Gifty tells Katherine that she and her mother are fine. Katherine replies that she’s not trying to psychoanalyze Gifty or pump her for information. She’s just trying to be present, as a friend. Under the table, Gifty pinches her skin to keep from crying, unsure what it would feel like to believe in Katherine’s friendship.
Katherine seems to intuitively understand that Gifty is evading self-disclosure when she swears that things are going well, despite evidence to the contrary. She offers her friendship to Gifty outright, but Gifty can’t imagine accepting the overtures, since she is so terrified of opening herself up to a relationship with a person who might hurt or abandon her.
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
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