The novel opens in Fante (present-day Ghana in East Africa), in the mid-1700s. We are presented to a woman named Effia. Effia was born in Fanteland simply outside of her father’s compound; a fire started on the night she was born and raved through the woods for days, destroying trees and crops. Effia’s dad, Cobbe Otcher, left the brand-new infant with his first wife, Baaba. Cobbe had actually lost 7 yams, and he thought that the fire would haunt his family line for all the generations to come. Effia did not nurse well with Cobbe’s first or 2nd wives, so she grew very thin and Baaba started to think about leaving her in the forest for the god Nyame to take. 3 years later, Baaba’s very first boy, Fiifi, was born. Baaba let Effia hold Fiifi soon after he was born; the girl dropped her brother, and though he wasn’t injure and didn’t even cry, Baaba beat Effia viciously. When Cobbe discovered this, he beat Baaba. This cycle of violence continued into Effia’s adolescence.
Around age twelve, Effia began to be seen for her beauty. Men and their families started to plan on Effia’s hand in marriage by giving the household provides, especially food. In 1775, another young woman in their town, Adwoa, became the very first female to be proposed to by a British soldier. When the soldier first concerned the village, Adwoa’s mom asked Effia’s parents to reveal him around while Adwoa finished preparing yourself; Effia came too. Later, when the white man brought items to Adwoa’s household and took her away to the Castle on Cape Coast, Cobbe took his daughter aside and warned her that white males would continue to come and take children from the village. He told her that he desired her to wed a guy from their town.
Effia hoped that her dad would choose for her to wed Abeeku Badu, who was next in line to be the town chief. Abeeku had actually been visiting their home and bringing gifts. When they consumed together, Effia asked Abeeku if he would work for the British when he became chief, and he stated yes. When Abeeku left the meal, he informed Baaba that she need to tell him when Effia is ready to marry. That night, Baaba woke Effia up while she was sleeping; she informed Effia that she need to put palm leaves inside of her vagina every day to look for blood and tell Baaba as soon as she finds any. Effia checked every day of the winter season and spring, however there was no blood. As Abeeku’s dad grew ill, Abeeku prepared to handle the role of chief and married 2 females. One of these ladies, Millicent, was half-caste, suggesting her mom was Fante and her dad was a British soldier. Baaba asked Millicent’s mother, whose white husband had died and left her with significant money, what it resembled at the castle and what the bride price is for weding one’s child to a white man. Millicent’s mother informed her that the bride rate is excellent, but that she thinks it’s better to wed your daughters to Fante guys so they can remain near you.
At age fifteen, Effia menstruated for the very first time. As soon as she checked the palm leaves and saw blood, she went to inform Baaba. Baaba warned her not to tell anyone else. The next week, the old chief passed away and Abeeku was made chief. Three days later on, Abeeku collected all the males of the town in his substance and got them drunk on palm white wine for two days. Fiifi, now twelve years old, and Cobbe went to the event; when they came back they were animated and blood-thirsty. That night, after Baaba and Cobbe went to sleep, Effia woke Fiifi to ask what had actually occurred at the meeting. He told her that Abeeku made an alliance with one of the most effective Asante villages, and that the two towns would start interacting to offer servants to the British. Quickly, Cobbe began to grow nervous about Effia menstruating so that she might marry Abeeku. He chose that Effia must visit Abeeku’s compound once a week so he wouldn’t forget her charm.
One evening when Effia visited Abeeku’s compound, she found that white men were going to as well. Abeeku said that Effia and his mom might can be found in and consume with the women, however that she should not speak if the white men went into the space. During the meal, Abeeku got in the space where the women were consuming; two white men came in with him. One white guy stated hello to each woman in damaged Fante, and when he stated it to Effia she could not help however laugh. The white guy gazed at her, his look turning from regretful to lustful. He asked Abeeku if she was his wife, and Abeeku reacted that she was not, sounding upset. Later that week, the white man, James Collins, concerned Effia’s house to request for her hand in marital relationship. This angered Effia’s dad greatly, especially due to the fact that she had actually been promised to Abeeku, but Baaba persuaded him that she might have been cursed by the fire when she was born, triggering her to never ever menstruate. Lastly, Effia’s dad consented; Baaba and Cobbe told Abeeku their theory about the fire and Effia’s apparently postponed menstruation and he too agreed that she must wed the white guy. Before Effia left for the Castle, Baaba gave Effia a black stone pendant, stating it was a piece of her mom to keep with her.
Effia and James were married in a church in the Cape Coast Castle. While James revealed Effia around the castle, she heard the faint noise of weeping and recognized that there were slaves being kept in the dungeons. Effia chewed out James, informing her to take him home, and he strongly secured his turn over her mouth. Effia cooled down after a while, recognizing that he might hurt her and that she wasn’t desired in your home anyway. After this, he took her approximately his chambers and they had sex for the first time. Effia remained in the Castle for weeks, and she and James fell under a routine and she began to genuinely take care of him. Effia taught James Fante, and he taught her English. Effia knew that James had an other half and kids back in England and wondered about the letters he got from them. James informed her that he desired a kid with her. Effia worried that she would not be a good mom, but Adwoa cautioned her that she had much better get pregnant or James may take her back to her village. Adwoa informed her that she would give her some roots from the woods and that she must put them under her bed. Together, the females hid the root under the bed and after that prepared Effia, intertwining her hair and oiling her body. When James got home, Effia rapidly initiated passionate sex, the intensity of which frightened him at first but which he soon reciprocated. After they ended up, James identified the root underneath the bed and scolded her roughly, calling such customs black magic.
One day right after, Effia relaxed in the shade with a group of other Fante wives of white men. The girls discussed their other halves, and one brought up that her partner appears highly disrupted by what he saw in the dungeons and often required her to make love without even washing the dungeon’s gives off feces and death off of him. Soon, Effia realized she was pregnant, which made James extremely delighted. Nevertheless, around the same time, she found out that her daddy was gravely ill. She took a trip for 3 days back to her village; Cobbe was still alive however incredibly weak. Fiifi informed her that it was he who wrote the letter informing her that their dad was going to die, and he also revealed that Baaba was not Effia’s birth mother. Her birth mom, the one who left the stone pendant, was a home lady who escaped into the fire on the night of Effia’s birth. That day, Cobbe died. Effia went to Baaba to inform her that she knew about her mother, but prior to she might state anything Baaba spat on the ground and refused her, stating that she was nothing which no child can grow from nothing.
Esi, a fifteen year old lady from Asanteland, was being held in the females’s dungeon at the Cape Coast Castle. She was surrounded by other ladies and filth; one female was sobbing nearby due to the fact that she had actually stopped producing milk to feed her child. Esi had been in the dungeon for two weeks. Before being taken, she had been preparing to wed a male from her village, Kwasi Nnuro.
A soldier entered the dungeon and spoke loudly to the women in a language they didn’t understand. He took the baby from the sobbing woman and slapped her. Tansi, Esi’s closest pal in the dungeon, informed her that they would most likely kill the infant. Afua, the female weeping, had been offered to the slave traders for getting pregnant before being married. Esi asked Tansi to tell her a story, and Tansi agreed after feigning reluctance, taking Esi’s head in her lap to have fun with her hair while speaking. Tansi asked if Esi understands the story of the kente fabric, and Esi stated she didn’t, though this is all part of the routine of storytelling. The story is brief: 2 Asante males initially find the way to weave a kente fabric by seeing the spider Anansi spinning a large web in the forest.
In the early morning, it is found that Afua had killed herself by holding her breath. When the soldiers can be found in later on, the ladies all needed to rest and have more women stacked on top of them because there was so little space in the dungeon. Some females were beaten unconscious before being stacked, and everyone had to urinate and defecate directly on those below them.
Esi recalled her life prior to pertaining to the Castle. Esi’s father, called Big Guy, and Esi’s mother Maame had commemorated their daughter’s birth for days on end. Esi’s daddy was appreciated as a fantastic warrior. He got his name after leading a group of warriors into battle against a village north of theirs even after a male had actually warned him that they were unprepared to eliminate. Another guy conserved him and his fans by taking a small group of males, taking some weapons, and threatening them, declaring that there were more warriors with weapons coming behind them. Esi’s dad said sorry and promised to never hurry into such a fight again, after which he was called Huge Guy. Esi had a blissful childhood with parents who gave her adequate love and attention. One of the only times that Maame would scold Esi harshly was when she wasn’t cautious around fire, which the female was horrified of.
Big Man led the village to numerous success versus close-by villages. After these triumphes, the warriors would revive spoils including gold and prisoners. Those prisoners would be put in the town square for any villagers to take as slaves. Maame had actually never ever wanted to take one of these detainees as a servant in their house, but after a while Big Guy insisted. They took a lady who was about Esi’s age and called her Abronoma. Abronoma was terrible at tasks, so Huge Male encouraged Maame to beat her. When Maame beat her, both the woman and the young girl would cry. One day, Big Man challenged Maame to get Abronoma to bring a pail of water on her head without spilling. Abronoma was really near succeeding, but spilled a couple of drops as she put the container down. This time, Big Male beat the girl, and the girl did not weep. Esi talked with her mother about this, saying that if her dad did not beat his slave, people would believe he was weak. Maame yelled at her for this, telling her that real strength is understanding that no one comes from anybody else. When Abronoma woke up, Esi gave her some water and excused what occurred, telling the servant lady that her dad is really a good male. Abronoma made fun of this and exposed something that Esi had actually not understood: Maame too had actually been a servant to a warrior. This warrior had actually raped Maame, offering her very first child, a sis that Esi had never met. Abronoma told Esi that separated sis are like a woman and her reflection, suggesting they can never truly be together. Esi is puzzled and shamed by this story.
Esi pursued months to befriend Abronoma, however the woman declined. Lastly, she gave Esi a way to be her buddy: send out word to her daddy back in her village about where she was. Esi stressed over the risks of doing this, however lastly decided to do it. She went to the messenger guy and informed him the message to provide to Abronoma’s father. When Esi returned and informed Abronoma what she had actually done, the woman hugged her; while they hugged, Esi pretended she was hugging her sis. After this, Abronoma ended up being fixated on the belief that her father would come for her. Then, one night after Huge Male had invested the night with Maame in her and Esi’s hut, there was an invasion. Huge Male got a machete and lacked the hut, yelling at Maame to take Esi into the woods. Esi got a knife and prepared to leave, but Maame began to worry, saying that she could not deal with woods and fire and running again. In the meantime, Abronoma entered into the hut, laughing and shouting that her daddy had pertained to save her. Maame got Esi’s hand and offered her a gorgeous black stone, saying she had been waiting for Esi’s wedding day. She informed Esi that she also had actually left one for Esi’s sibling before setting a fire and getting away. She began to babble rubbish, and Esi saw that her mother was not going to flee. Esi took the stone, gave her mother the knife, and ran. In the woods she found a tall palm tree and climbed it. Nevertheless, the warriors soon came and knocked people out of the trees by throwing rocks.
Esi was tied to a line of other individuals and forced to stroll for days on end. A girl named Tansi said that she had actually heard the white males were going to consume them. The girls became good friends. They walked for more days, the sores on their feet bleeding continuously. They were finally provided some food and rest in a Fante town. Given that Esi comprehended Fante, she might understand when the chief argued with among his men about how their Asante allies would be upset to discover that they were dealing with their enemies. These men addressed each other by name: Chief Abeeku and Fiifi. Fiifi went out of the place the servants were being kept and revived some white men. They attended to one of the white males as Governor James and informed the men to check how strong the Asante were. When Fiifi tried to undress Esi, which would indicate losing her stone, she spat in his face. Fiifi did not respond initially, and then he hit Esi very hard. This triggered her stone to fall onto the ground, but she got it back by falling to the ground while crying. To keep it safe, she put it in her mouth and swallowed it.
Back in the dungeon at the Castle, the women were now crammed in more securely than ever and the waste on the floor increased to their ankles. One soldier got a woman and began to touch her body. A soldier got Esi; she tried to combat him but was too weak. He took her approximately his quarters. He provided her water and she tried to consume some however it fell back out of her mouth. He put her on a tarp and raped her. After he ended up, he looked at her with revulsion and shame. She sobbed, and he kept her in his space till dark, when he took her back to the dungeon. After this, Esi continued living in the dungeon, though she now had the added tension of her vagina bleeding constantly. She no longer wished to talk to Tansi or hear stories. Then, one day, Governor James was available in with some other guys, and they selected some females, including Esi. The ladies were lined up in a row and Guv James felt their breasts and in between their legs. When he discovered blood in between Esi’s, he motioned for her and some other women to be taken from the dungeon. Esi stressed all of a sudden, attempting to return and look for her stone, however the soldiers raised her and moved her out. Esi thought about how seeing a white male smile meant something bad was coming.
Effia and Esi are maybe the most essential characters in the book. The two daughters of Maame are at the head of 2 lines of descendants who live in Ghana and the United States from the 17th through 21st centuries. Through the stories of these two characters’ descendants, Gyasi compares the history of Africa and the United States, concentrating on the ongoing battles of black people in America, and of females in Africa.
The servant lady Abronoma foreshadows the separation and drastic distinctions in the lives of Maame’s two lines of descendants when she states, “In my village we have a saying about separated sisters. They resemble a woman and her reflection, destined stay on opposite sides of the pond” (p. 45). Esi and Effia’s descendants will be literally separated by a body of water: the Atlantic Ocean. The concept of Effia and Esi being reflections of one another can be even more understood as indicating that they and their descendants will have lives that are similar in some methods and opposite in others, just as a reflection looks like a flipped version of the thing being reflected.
The black stone is a major symbol throughout Homegoing. Since Esi loses hers, her descendants quickly lose their physical connection to Ghana; on the other hand, Effia’s descendants remain in Africa and keep a connection to their ancestors by giving the stone and informing the stories of those who had it formerly. The stone is likewise symbolic in its appearance; it is dark black, underscoring the role skin color has in the book.
An important idea that Gyasi communicates in Homegoing is the way people form bias and can pass these down to their children and communities. At the end of Esi’s chapter, Gyasi writes, “for the rest of her life Esi would see a smile on a white face and remember the one the soldier provided her before taking her to his quarters, how white men smiling simply meant more evil was including the next wave” (p. 56). Esi’s distrust against white men makes sense provided her history, and many of her descendants likewise handle violence and discrimination at the hands of white guys, while others will deal with difficulty trusting white guys who genuinely wish them well, because of this ingrained mistrust originating from Esi’s experience.
Effia and Esi’s sections have a kind of dark paradox to them regarding the ephemerality of social status. Effia is born to a good household, however she herself is low born; her mother was a slave, and she is raised by another female who plans to wed her off for money. Esi, on the other hand, is born to a well-respected daddy and, while she has the very same mother as Effia, her mom is no longer a slave. While the reader might anticipate that Esi would have a much better life outcome than Effia, Effia marries a white male, providing her money and power, while Esi is taken into slavery. These abrupt shifts in social status take place in later chapters too, showing how political events and easy happenstance can have significant effect on person’s opportunities.