Family Tree: Is it Important?

When we commenced the novel Homegoing, I was confused as to why Ms. Reid told us to analyze the family tree. I turned the page, glimpsed at it, did not recognize any of the names, and I flipped the page. I thought to myself, meh, whatever, not important. 

Flash forward a few days, I thought about the family tree again. After reading a good amount of Homegoing, I came to the conclusion that this family is huge, and untraceable. I found myself flipping back to the family tree periodically as I progressed through reading the novel. I discovered the real function of the family tree. I saw the significance Ms. Reid was illuminating for us, finally.

I am the type of person to search for meaning in everything. I thought to myself: there is no way the only significance of the family tree is for our convenience when we find ourselves at a loss about the never-ending family that we get to know in Homegoing

I’ve come to a few conclusions on what the family tree means. My first one is that it represents the migration and losses of African Americans through slavery. Slaves were unable to keep track of their authentic heritage nor their life stories: they lose a part of their identities. 

My second conclusion is that more broadly it symbolizes the inhumanities of slavery. For example there is so much multi-marrigial affairs happening which is shown within the family tree. This also plays a part in gender roles as women cannot marry more than one man.

Lastly, the family tree represents the struggle and pain that is given under the circumstances of slavery. It shows their struggle to find their authentic identity and know who they really are. The family tree, however, is not just negative. It also shows the importance of family and knowing the key traits in people that you value; it symbolizes finding the right people and people who will be there for you forever.

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