Physical Sites of Memory in Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing and Octavia E. Butler's Kindred
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis undertakes a close analysis of the role that material objects and places play in the intergenerational transmission of memory in two historical fictions on slavery: Homegoing (2016) by Yaa Gyasi, and Kindred (1979) by Octavia E. Butler. The first chapter focuses on Homegoing and demonstrates how sisters Effia and Esi and their respective retention and loss of inherited stones have an effect on the continuance of ancestral memory and cultural heritage down their family lines. It then looks at their present-day descendants who return to their ancestral home in Ghana, and how this return, specifically to the colonial site of Cape Coast Castle, has an impact on their memory of their ancestral pasts. Chapter two turns to Butler’s Kindred, and similarly looks at how an inherited family Bible and journal entries written on a slave plantation during protagonist Dana’s time travel into the past assist in the remembrance of her ancestral past. It then analyses the specific ways in which Dana’s return to the Weylin plantation of the past results in her assimilation into the life of her ancestors, through the embodied remembrance that she experiences during her interactions with the place and its people. Ultimately, this thesis demonstrates that objects and places of familial significance, through a process of mutual interaction, can facilitate the intergenerational transmission of ancestral memory. However, it also shows that a return to place can result in a too-deep immersion into the past, and that, in the case of Dana, it is necessary for her to find a way through which to process this new memory in order for her to understand it and to gain closure.