Transcendent Kingdom

by

Yaa Gyasi

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Father/The Chin Chin Man Character Analysis

Gifty’s father, the Chin Chin Man, received his nickname because he would buy achomo, or “chin chin,” from Gifty’s grandmother. He was raised Catholic but after his marriage to Gifty’s mother, he joined her Pentecostal Church. His easygoing nature and devotion to their son, Nana, led to the family’s immigration, at his wife’s request, to America. However, he isn’t happy in the states, where he is treated with racist suspicion. When Gifty is still small, the Chin Chin Man leaves his family and returns to Ghana, where he eventually remarries. The Chin Chin Man represents a frequently ignored immigrant story: the non-triumphant, unsuccessful immigrant. He comes to America and loses his dignity, his community, and his happy marriage. But he can’t simply return to his old life, either: when he returns to Ghana, he loses his connection with his beloved children, who stay in the U.S. with their mother. When Gifty visits the Chin Chin Man in Ghana, it’s clear that he doesn’t have any idea of how to connect to the life or the children he left behind in America any longer.

Father/The Chin Chin Man Quotes in Transcendent Kingdom

The Transcendent Kingdom quotes below are all either spoken by Father/The Chin Chin Man or refer to Father/The Chin Chin Man. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Science and Religion Theme Icon
).
Chapter 10 Quotes

I’m not pretending there is an impending disaster; I truly believe that there is one. At one point, I make a low, guttural, animal sound, a sound so clearly biological in its design to elicit attention and sympathy from my fellow animals, and yet my fellow animals—my father, my brother,—do nothing but talk over me … we are all safe, in a small, rented house in Alabama, not stranded in a dark and dangerous rain forest, not on a raft in the middle of the sea. So the sound is a nonsense sound, a misplaced sound, a lion’s roar in the tundra. When I listen to the tape now, it seems to me that this itself was the disaster I foresaw, a common enough disaster for most infants these days: that I was a baby, born cute, loud, needy, but wild, but the conditions of the wilderness had changed.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Nana , Father/The Chin Chin Man
Related Symbols: Baby Bird
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 14 Quotes

If I’ve thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have, then it is important to remind myself what a callus is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound. And what a wound my father leaving was. On those phone calls with the Chin Chin Man, my mother was always so tender, drawing from a wellspring of patience that I never would have had if I were in her shoes. To think of the situation now still makes me furious. That this man, my father, went back to Ghana in such a cowardly way, leaving his two children and wife alone to navigate a difficult country, a punishing state. That he let us, let her, believe that he might return.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Father/The Chin Chin Man
Page Number: 72-73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

We walked to the Greyhound station, our mother holding our hands the entire time. We took that bus home, and I don’t think Nana made a single noise. I don’t think I did either. I could feel that something had changed among the three of us and I was trying to learn what my role in this new configuration of my family might be. That day was the end of my naughtiness, the beginning of my good years. If our mother was angry or upset at us, me for being a terror, Nana for changing his mind, she didn’t let on. She wrapped us in her arms during that long ride home, her face inscrutable. When we got home, she put all of Nana’s soccer gear into a box, sealed the box, and dumped it into the nether regions of our garage, never to be seen again.

Related Characters: Gifty (speaker), Mother , Nana , Father/The Chin Chin Man
Page Number: 82
Explanation and Analysis:
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Father/The Chin Chin Man Character Timeline in Transcendent Kingdom

The timeline below shows where the character Father/The Chin Chin Man appears in Transcendent Kingdom. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Science and Religion Theme Icon
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...he finds something on the floor and asks, “What is this?” He doesn’t do the Chin Chin Man anymore. In a third excerpt, Gifty wonders what she looks like to God from space,... (full context)
Chapter 5
Science and Religion Theme Icon
Gifty recalls her family’s story. Her father, the Chin Chin Man, met her mother buying food from her grandmother’s cart. Her mother... (full context)
Science and Religion Theme Icon
Everyone adored Nana. The Chin Chin Man was happy in Kumasi, but her mother wanted to go to America. After some arguing,... (full context)
Chapter 7
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...overwhelming evidence, Gifty’s mother would never admit that they experienced racism in Alabama. Yet, her father couldn’t find a job and became reclusive. (full context)
Science and Religion Theme Icon
The Chin Chin Man ’s arrival reminded Gifty’s mother of how much she owed God. And to help him... (full context)
Chapter 9
Self-Discovery, Identity, and Individuality Theme Icon
...would take care of him while Gifty’s mother worked. She became jealous of how close father and son were, although she herself never kept the things he made her or listened... (full context)
Chapter 10
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...time, she feels like she’s seeing another person. In one, Nana tries to tell their father a story while she babbles urgently in the background. Adult Gifty hears genuine fear and... (full context)
Chapter 12
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...home, Gifty’s mother, horrified by the sin of speaking ill of the dead, made the Chin Chin Man pull over so the family could pray on the side of the road for Mr.... (full context)
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...Man loved soccer for its dancing elegance and precision. Gifty remembers one game, where a father on the other team loudly admonished his son, “Don’t you let them niggers win.” Nana... (full context)
Chapter 13
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
When Nana started playing soccer, Gifty’s mother and father started fighting about food. Gifty wasn’t allowed to waste food or be a picky eater,... (full context)
Chapter 14
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...back home. But America was the only home Nana and Gifty had known. Eventually, their father went home to visit family and never came back. Gifty was four. At first, Nana... (full context)
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...form over wounds to protect them. She feels angry when she thinks about how the Chin Chin Man abandoned his family to fend for themselves and lied to them about coming back. But... (full context)
Chapter 15
Self-Discovery, Identity, and Individuality Theme Icon
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
Gifty has few memories of the Chin Chin Man , and most come from family stories. After he left, they tried to keep their... (full context)
Chapter 21
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
Shortly after the Chin Chin Man left, her mother hosted a party for the Ghana Association of Alabama. Although Gifty and... (full context)
Chapter 22
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
...suggested that he try out, surprising them since they were a soccer family and the Chin Chin Man once said that he’d rather watch giraffes in the wild than basketball on TV. But... (full context)
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...he was lying every time he tried to tell himself he didn’t care about their father. Long after dark that night, Nana continued to practice free throws in the driveway. (full context)
Chapter 24
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...Her cousin had complained about the high phone bills, so she had stopped calling the Chin Chin Man so much. She was fond of the ghost, who would brush the back of her... (full context)
Chapter 27
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...when Nana was trying to decide on a college. They had recently learned that the Chin Chin Man was remarrying. When he called, Gifty would talk to him for a few minutes until... (full context)
Chapter 33
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...Nana could call home on Fridays. These talks were as  stilted as ones with the Chin Chin Man , because he felt angry and betrayed. When Gifty and her mother picked him up... (full context)
Chapter 37
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
...the family and disappear regularly. Gifty’s parents fought on the phone, her mother blaming the Chin Chin Man for his absence. When he was sober, Nana broke things: the walls, the television, picture... (full context)
Chapter 38
Science and Religion Theme Icon
Self-Discovery, Identity, and Individuality Theme Icon
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...one showed up to support them: not their church, not the Ghanaian community, not the Chin Chin Man . After three weeks, Pastor John visited. Gifty was so hungry for touch that she... (full context)
Chapter 39
Addiction, Depression, and Control Theme Icon
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...funeral, which was filled with strangers to Gifty and Nana. When she learned that her father had only told people that Nana was “sick,” she hung up on him. Afterwards, her... (full context)
Chapter 40
Science and Religion Theme Icon
...ambulance. As Gifty’s mother was lifted onto a stretcher, she apologized for not letting the Chin Chin Man take Nana with him to Ghana. (full context)
Chapter 42
Trauma, Caretaking, and Intimacy  Theme Icon
...of how to say the word in English. Gifty’s mother later translated, telling Gifty her father was ashamed. She didn’t care how he felt, and only wanted to go home. (full context)