Father or Stranger: Sadie’s Stream of Consciousness

Amidst the flashbacks and actions in the present, the emotions and thoughts of characters burst forward onto the pages of Ghana Must Go like nonstop, powerful flowing rivers. This narrative technique, stream of consciousness, is one of the most intriguing aspects of Taiye Selasi’s novel as it directly delves into the psyches of multiple characters, exposing dark secrets and complicated histories. With little to no punctuation, the stream of consciousness abruptly gives the reader a vast amount of information that concerns a character’s thoughts and/or feelings on a certain matter of the story, such as a significant theme, plot point, or motivation. One of the most notable factors that is revealed through the stream of consciousness in Ghana Must Go is the family dynamics of the Sais, as demonstrated through the thought process of Sadie, the youngest child in the family.

Folasade Sai (known affectionately as Sadie) is the youngest daughter and child of Kweku Sai and Folasade Savage. While all of her older siblings are already all grown up, Sadie is the baby of the family, only twenty years old when first introduced during her birthday party in Part II of the novel. Being the youngest member of the family, Sadie thus remembers her father the least, as she was only a young child when he left. So when her older sister, Taiwo, calls and delivers the sad news of Kweku’s death, a barrage of mixed emotions in the form of a stream of consciousness erupts: “Did she know? Did she feel it? The loss of her father, the death of a man she had almost not known, who was gone before she was in grade school, a stranger? How could she have What could she claim to have lost? A memory. Someone else’s” (Selasi 148 – 9).

This passage reinforces the family dynamics of the Sais. We see that Sadie and Kweku were so distant from each other after his departure that she is unsure of whether or not she feels great sadness over his death. We see that, in addition to addressing Kweku as “her father”, he is also just “a man” and “a stranger” to Sadie. Furthermore, Sadie’s inability to explain her feelings clearly and decide on what loss she is experiencing as well as assigning her memories to “someone else” solidifies the rift that exists within the Sai family. It is a moment of great sadness for the audience with access to Sadie’s personal thoughts, but not a moment of sorrow for Sadie herself.

Sadie’s stream of consciousness thus allows the reader to get intimate with the private thoughts of Saide. By having access to a complex thought process that is not being shared with other characters within the novel, the reader is able to gain clear insight on Sadie’s perspective on the dynamics of her family, notbaly her strained relationship with her father. Being in the consciousness of Sadie also allows the reader to experience her own emotions alongside her, creating a connection that makes the story more layered, personal, and realistic as well as intriguing. With the stream of consciousness, Taiye Selasi therefore utilizes a literary device that overwhelms the reader with intense emotions and thought provoking concepts in a nonstop, nonlinear narrative fashion to capture the disoriented and tragic atmosphere of the split Sai family.

B3

Works Cited

Selasi, Taiye. Ghana Must Go. Penguin Books, 2014.

2 thoughts on “Father or Stranger: Sadie’s Stream of Consciousness

  1. I agree that stream of consciousness narratives have a tendency to overwhelm the reader while also keeping them very close to the character’s themselves. Another interesting thing in the passage you choose was the repeated use of questions Sadie asks herself. I appreciate the way Selasi only gives an answer to the final too questions that Sadie asks herself. The unanswered questions that she leaves hanging on the page heighten the tension in this moment and present an authentic representation of shock and grief.

  2. Your point about stream of consciousness, and the feeling of “assigning her memories to ‘someone else’” is really interesting and important. I also think the question she asks herself, “Did she feel it?” has a double-meaning. On first reading, it seems like Sadie is wondering whether she feels emotionally affected by the news of her father’s death. But on further analysis, the comment is connected to other ways of “feeling” expressed in the novel. Both Fola (the older Fola) and Taiwo “felt” Kweku’s death, as well as Kehinde suicide attempt. Therefore, this passage makes Sadie wonder whether she has the same emotional connection with the family that the other women seem to experience.

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