Transcendent Kingdom


Yaa Gyasi

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Transcendent Kingdom Symbols

Baby Bird

The baby bird that Gifty and Nana tried to rescue after it fell from its nest symbolizes Gifty’s childhood helplessness and dependence. Holding the bird in her hands, five-year-old Gifty is struck by its vulnerability…

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In Transcendent Kingdom, food represents the desire and potential for connection and intimacy between people. Gifty instinctively connects food with intimacy, while rejecting food is something that gives a person power. To prepare for…

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Because Gifty’s mice help her to understand addiction, they symbolize her brother, Nana, who died of an accidental heroin overdose. The mice allow Gifty to answer questions she had—and still has—for Nana. Not…

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Sacred Words

Sacred words, such as those from the Bible, represent Gifty’s quest to make meaning out of her life, especially as she embraces science rather than religion. Gifty was raised in the Pentecostal church, and the…

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