Homegoing: viewing through different lenses

By Ella Deignan

In Gyasi’s novel titled Homegoing, Gyasi offers stories from individuals and intertwines each of the stories to create a more complex tree of relationships. Through these relationships, we as the reader can see the story through a window, viewing these new ideas, cultures, and individuals through literature. However, we can also use literature as a mirror to help us see more clearly our similarities and/or differences to these characters. 

Homegoing offers insight into the complexities of the African slave trade through the lens of the Fante and Asante people. Through this piece of literature, we can travel through the bloodline of sisters separated at birth and view the impact of the slave trade on different individuals throughout time, whether it be in the Fante and Asante lands, or in America as freed slaves. Literature allows “a reader to stand safely in her own identity while exploring a world beyond [their] current view” (Heinemann blog). Homegoing allows us to read, educate, discuss, and dissect all aspects of these experiences simply through peering in. Books and stories like those of Own Voice literature allow us to expand our horizon, viewing through a window into another person’s world. 

In Homegoing, Gyasi helps shape the literature and create these characters with granular, individual issues or familial issues that many readers can relate to. This construction of characters helps the reader view the literature as a mirror, helping reflect their own lived experiences and build identity. One great example of this is the internal conflicts among some of the main characters who share similar or differing views from their parents’ traditional ones. For example, James, son of Quey and Nana Yaa, is conflicted with his parents’ traditional value of marriage as he is unfulfilled with his current wife and seeks to break away but is unsure how. Through this example, we can use Homegoing as a mirror in which we can reflect on our own lives and values in relation to our parents. We can seek to understand the role, however large, parents and ancestors play in the development of our own ideas and values. Further, we can understand the importance of cultural uniformity on traditional parental values, and use Homegoing as a mirror to help reflect on our western cultural values that shape familial expectations. 

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