What happens in Homegoing?

Effia and Esi were half-sisters who never met. Effia was born in Fanteland. Esi was born in Asanteland. Effia married a slave trader, Governor James Collins of the Cape Coast Castle, and Esi was sold into slavery by Effia's husband. Effia's son Quey went on to work for the slave trading company, while Esi's daughter Ness lived and died as a slave.

  • Esi's descendants were raised in the United States. Ness's son Kojo was a free man in Baltimore. Kojo's son H was a slave, then a convict, then a union organizer. H's daughter Willie was a singer who moved to Harlem. Willie's first child, Sonny, worked for the NAACP before falling into drugs. Sonny's son Marcus went on to study at Stanford.
  • Effia's descendants were raised in Africa before moving to the United States. Her son Quey married Nana Yaa, a member of Asante royalty. Quey's son James faked his death to be with his wife, Akosua. James's daughter Abena died in childbirth. Abena's daughter Akua set fire to her hut while sleepwalking and killed all but one of her children. Her surviving son, Yaw, became a teacher and moved to Alabama with his wife and daughter.
  • Yaw's daughter Marjorie also attended Stanford. She and Marcus met at a party one night and immediately hit it off. He took her to Pratt City, where H once lived and worked as a coal miner. Marjorie took him to Ghana, where they visited the Cape Coast Castle. At long last, the two families were reunited.

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Homegoing traces the history of two families: one that works in the slave trade and one that rises up out of slavery. Effia Otcher gave birth to one line, while Esi Asara gave birth to another. Effia and Esi were half-sisters who never met. The novel is broken into two parts of seven chapters each, alternating chapters between Effia's descendants and Esi's. Effia was born in Fanteland, the only daughter of Cobbe and Maame, his Asante slave, who escaped and returned to her village. Effia was given to Cobbe's first wife, Baaba, to nurse. Villagers claimed that Effia was born of fire because Baaba's milk dried up, making it impossible for her to feed Effia. As a child, Effia accidentally dropped her infant brother, Fiifi. Fiifi was uninjured, but Baaba still hit Effia with a hot stirring spoon. From then on, Baaba was abusive to Effia, who grew up and earned the name Effia the Beauty despite her scars. Effia wanted to marry Abeeku Badu, the young chief of their village. He was an ambitious man, however, and made a deal with Governor James Collins of the Cape Coast Castle to supply the notorious slave trading center with slaves. Collins fell in love with Effia and asked for her hand in marriage even though she was all but promised to Abeeku. Abeeku let her go, and Effia moved to the Cape Coast Castle with James. She had one son, Quey.

Esi was born in Asanteland, the daughter of Maame and Big Man, a great warrior who had proven himself in battle. Esi was called "ripe mango" because she was a little spoiled but sweet. She had an easy childhood. Her father even procured a slave girl, Little Dove, instead of allowing Esi to help with the housework like a commoner. Little Dove couldn't carry pots on her head, however, and when she spilled water, Big Man beat her so as not to appear weak. One night, Esi was awoken by the cries of a watchman warning the village that their enemies were upon them. Esi fled into the woods, where she climbed a tree to hide from the attackers. One of the warriors threw rocks at her until she lost her grip and fell. Everyone who survived the attack was chained and taken to the Cape Coast Castle to be sold into slavery. Esi was imprisoned in one of the female dungeons, where women were stacked and chained on top of each other. Soldiers repeatedly raped her. James Collins shipped her to the Americas to work on a plantation. Esi was called Frownie because her heart was so hard. She had a daughter, Ness, who was taken away from her when the child was just ten.

Effia's son, Quey, was raised...

(The entire section is 2,093 words.)