Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing: Struggle of Finding One’s Self
Through symbolism, in trying to fit in according to societal expectations, one is conflicted about their identity which causes one to feel conflicted with their position in society, in Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing.
Gyasi utilizes the symbolism of language to demonstrate that language can make one self-conscious of their identity which challenges one’s heritage. Marjorie gave her parents a note that her teacher wrote which states “If she doesn’t [know English, she] should consider English as a Second Language classes”(Gyasi 266). The teacher shows a common stereotype that even though a person speaks a different language at home, they might not know English. In order to fit into society, one needs to speak English. Differentiating from English and Twi conflict with Marjorie’s identity and heritage as speaking Twi allows her to connect with her family history, however, speaking English strains Marjorie away from her family history to follow the American culture. Marjorie was reading a book during lunch when Tisha, a popular girl at Marjorie’s school, bullies Marjorie and said her voice “sound like a white girl. White girl. White girl”(Gyasi 269). The girls are making fun of Marjorie’s voice sounding British. Marjorie’s family history is connected to the carnage and damage done by the British. By Marjorie’s voice sounding “like a white girl” demonstrates that Britain’s influence still affects Ghanaians to this day Mrs. Pinkston, Marjorie’s favorite teacher tells Marjorie to write a poem “about what being African-American means to [her] you”( Gyasi 273). Although Marjorie identifies as Ghanaian- American, society forces her to only identify as African-American which strips her of her identity.
Through the symbolism of loved ones, one can find their position despite being dehumanized by society. Marjorie admires the Lord of the Flies but Mrs. Pinkston refutes her opinion and tells her “do you love it? Do you feel it inside?”(Gyasi 270). Mrs. Pinkston encourages Marjorie to find her identity on her own accord without anyone telling her what’s “the best group to fit in to”. This advice builds more optimism for Marjorie to find her identity and connect herself even more with her heritage. Marjorie writes about a poem about which discusses her family history as she talks about how everyone is related with one another as she tells the audience that “ The waters seem different but are same”(Gyasi 282). With Marjorie reciting her family history and the splitting of her ancestors, Esi and Effia, Marjorie begins to understand her identity in America even though being dehumanized by American standards as she doesn’t fully identify herself as African-American.
Marjorie continues her poem as she tells the audience that “ The waters seem different but are same”(Gyasi 282).“our same Sister skin. Who knew? Not me. Not you” (Gyasi 282). Marjorie informs the audience that everyone came from the same origin as “same Sister skin” solidifies that everyone in the auditorium including Marjorie is similar which helps Marjorie find her identity much easier despite being dehumanized. In conclusion, one can find their identity despite being dehumanized by American standards
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