In American culture, the concept of being a “daddy’s girl” or a “mama’s boy” is all too present; I myself have been called daddy’s little girl. More often than not, if a young girl connects with her father and is given special attention from him, she is deemed a daddy’s girl, for many a prized compliment and seen to be reminiscent of a unique bond; however, the term mama’s boy does not have such a connotation. Typically, it is used to describe young males who have not reached an appropriate maturity for their age, instead clinging to their mother’s approval and praise for validation.
There are many complexities with either title, yet, “daddy’s girl” comes with a host of challenges specifically stemming from the role of the mother and her parental position within the relationship between father and daughter. In Yaa Gyasi’s novel Homegoing, she explores these intricate relationships outside of American society, instead examining them in a setting across the Atlantic Ocean in two Ghanaian tribes, the Fante and Asante people.
After reading the first two chapters, Gyasi has introduced our class to the protagonists of the story, Effia and Esi. These two females are half-sisters, unbeknownst to them, born into two different tribes. The novel follows the story of their descendants, but first explains their origins. While never knowing of each other, the half-sisters have one specific thing in common: they are both daddy’s girls.
In her first chapter, Effia’s backstory is revealed and her parents, Cobbe (her father) and Baaba (her mother), are introduced. It is extremely evident that Cobbe’s heart lies with Effia. In his mind, his beautiful daughter can do no wrong and deserves all of the best, even marrying the chief of the village, Abeeku. Effia is his pride and joy. Though she receives nothing but love and attention from Cobbe, her relationship with Baaba is exactly the opposite. All of the affection that Effia obtain’s from her father fuels jealousy and resentment in Baaba, especially because she is not Effia’s biological mother. Threatened by their relationship, Baaba goes to great lengths to rid herself of Effia’s presence, marrying her off to a strange white man and not even writing to tell her of her father’s impending death. Such facts leave the reader to wonder: is being so close with her father worth the turmoil?
Esi experiences a similar relationship with her parents as Effia. Big Man, her father, is one of the greatest warriors of their village and is revered by Esi; she is his favorite too. The two share a similar bond to that of Effia and Cobbe. However, Esi is not resented by her mother. Instead, after Esi begins to repeat Big Man’s words and actions, her mother becomes disappointed in her, an emotion very different from jealousy, as her behavior contradicts the respect and kindness she was taught as a child.
Though these two females live in a very different world from that of today, in her first two chapters, Gyasi’s writing illuminates just a few of the issues with specific parent-child relationships. Obviously, everyone has different connections with those in their family, so, the question is left for you to answer yourself: is being a daddy’s girl a blessing or a curse?