4. From the inner room Esi heard them and pain filled her chest. She could never be as close to her mother as her mother was to her grandmother. Never, never, never. And she knew why.

In Chapter 14, after returning home one weekend, Esi overhears her mother and grandmother talking. The two women have been discussing Esi, and their discussion reveals their closeness and similarity in speech and language. Listening to the two women communicate so naturally and easily with one another fills Esi with a deep loneliness. Because of her education, she will always be somewhat separated from these two women. As Esi later notes, the cost of her education has been a high one.

Esi’s disconnection from her mother and grandmother is also significant on a larger, cultural scale. The more educated and westernized Africa becomes, the more likely it is that it will lose touch with certain elements of its rich tradition and history. Each generation will be a little less connected to the past, as Esi herself has become. The loss, of course, is not without its benefits, though. By having access to a wonderful education, Esi has more personal freedom and wealth than either her mother or grandmother had. For Esi, the question remains whether or not the price she has paid for her modernity is too high.