Roots Summary and Analysis of Chapters 68-83

Bell tells Kunta she is pregnant, to his great joy. Their daughter is born in September 1790. In her labor, Bell reveals that she had two children with a boy her age before she was 16, but she was sold away from them. Master Waller helps Bell, who at 43 is old for a mother, through the birth. He plans to give the child a Mandinka name that will indicate that she will never be parted from her mother, as he wants to reassure Bell that she will get to keep these children.

Bell is upset because she does not want them to get in trouble, nor does she want what she considers a heathen child. Kunta takes their baby out under the stars and whispers her name to her, the same as his father did to him. He has named her Kizzy, which means "you sit down" or "you stay put." Master Waller does not disapprove of the name, and she goes down in his plantation record as Kizzy Waller.

The young Missy Anne is especially taken with Kizzy, and the two develop a special relationship. Kunta entirely hates this, since he does not like Kizzy to be treated like a doll and fears that she will be hurt when Missy Anne inevitably loses interest in her. But Bell thinks it is a good idea and will help keep Kizzy in the good graces of the master, who dotes on Missy Anne. Missy Anne comes twice a week to see her uncle and she and Kizzy are able to spend a long time playing together.

The slaves are occupied by the talk of the slave revolt in Haiti and then the gardener's death. Kunta is still annoyed by Missy Anne and Kizzy's close relationship. One day he is bringing Kizzy home from a day at the Waller's when they are able to be alone together in the buggy. She is just starting to talk, and he teaches her some Mandinka. When she repeats this words in front of Bell, Bell says it's too dangerous and Kunta can't act like his daughter is African. Kunta also nearly gets in trouble for an African practice when Missy Anne tells her parents about his monthly age stones, but Bell is able to diffuse the situation.

Bell tells Kunta that she needs to get Kizzy baptized so she can go to church with Missy Anne and her family. Kunta wants no part in Christianity but reluctantly agrees to let his daughter be baptized, which occurs at a big summer camp meeting that Kunta has never had to attend. He does this time.

When Kizzy is seven she starts working in the master's house alongside her mother. Kunta dislikes seeing her as a slave, and makes up for this by filling her with all the folk wisdom and oral traditions that he grew up with. He tells her about his life as a boy in Juffure and his capture. He tells her Mandinka words and that he came from near a river called the Kamby Bolongo.

Life continues to go on at the plantation. The fiddler narrowly escapes from Richmond after violence erupts in the wake up a slave uprising. Later the fiddler reveals that he has saved up enough money to buy his freedom for the price Master Waller set. Yet when he tells the master, he refused, saying prices have doubled and he cannot accept anything less than that. He is apologetic but firm. The fiddler is devastated.

Kunta gets very sick but recovers. He sees that Missy Anne has been teaching Kizzy to write as they grow up. He is worried. By the time Missy Anne is 16 and Kizzy is 12, Missy Anne begins to lose interest in her as courting young men become her primary focus. Kizzy is devastated, as Kunta knew she would be when this day finally came.

Kizzy and the young fieldhand Noah begin to show potential romantic interest in each other after not being friends their whole lives. Noah confides in Kunta that he is planning to run away. Suddenly, disaster strikes. When Noah tries to run, he is quickly caught, though not before graveling injuring the men who catch him, and confesses that Kizzy forged his traveling pass. Kunta and Bell fear the worst and try to get her from inside the master's house, but they are rebuffed. Before they know what is happening, she is being pushed onto a wagon and sold for breaking the law. Kunta and Bell beg with Master Waller not to sell her but he is deaf to their cries. She screams as the wagon rolls away. In a blind rage of pain, Kunta smashes his age-gourd upon the floor.


In this chapter Kunta continues his bloodline, marking the first step along his ancestors' branching journeys in America. Kunta has always been preoccupied both with manhood and the future of his family, and has always felt displaced ever since his capture. In this chapter he puts down new roots through his daughter, and the accompanying language is appropriately nature-filled: "He felt a deep pride and serenity in the knowledge that the blood of the Kintes, which had coursed down through the centuries like a mighty river, would continue to flow for still another generation" (Chapter 68). The river imagery is especially powerful because of the river, the Kamby Bolongo, that was next to his home.

This chapter shows how Kizzy, up until being sold, had a life free from hardship and pain. Kunta tells her all about his capture and she asks questions like whether the slavers asked Kunta's parents if they could take him. This shows both how naive and lucky she has been: she grew up with both parents, rare for a slave, and cannot imagine the cruelty that whites have inflicted upon blacks throughout the slave trade.

It is not only Kizzy who has a disconnect between her reality and the truth, but clearly Master Waller as well. He is polite but ignorant of the effect his telling the fiddler that he cannot buy his freedom has on the fiddler. He also refuses to forgive Kizzy for writing the traveling pass, even though she has been a loyal slave and it was his own niece who taught her how to write.

Chapter 83, where Kizzy is sold, marks a more-than-halfway break in the narrative. In similar devastating imagery, she is sold when she is about the same age that Kunta was when he was taken from his home. Kunta has finally built a happy family life for himself, something he probably never imagined he could have as a slave, only to see it all ripped away before his eyes incredibly suddenly. The parallel between his capture and Kizzy's selling are apparent in Haley's writing.

The final image of the chapter is of Kunta breaking his gourd of pebbles that signify his age. "His face contorting, Kunta flung his dust toward the cabin's roof. Tears bursting from his eyes, snatching his heavy gourd up high over his head, his mouth wide in a soundless scream, he hurled the gourd down with all his strength, and it shattered against the packed-earth floor, his 662 pebbles representing each month of his 55 rains flying out, ricocheting wildly in all directions" (Chapter 83). Kunta's American remaking of his shattered life has been broken. This image symbolizes his impotent rage to control the cruel world around him. No matter how much he has tried to create a loving family outside of his homeland, his daughter has been quickly, irrevocably taken away from him.