Roots Summary and Analysis of Chapters 50-67

Kunta wakes up in a hut. He is weak and lapses in and out of consciousness while a white doctor and black woman named Bell attend him. His foot is covered in bloody bandages. Bell cures him of a fever using non-toubob medicine in secret. Finally after three weeks he begins to walk with crutches and take notice of where he is. He thinks it is a better farm, with nicer houses for the slaves and no overseer. He has great contempt for the slaves, since he sees them as accepting their lot and never fighting back against enslavement.

He meets one of the slaves, a brown man named Fiddler. He says he is the gardener, though Kunta cannot yet understand most English words. Kunta is later given a pair of shoes and learns that the buggy driver’s name is Luther. Luther tells him that their master is named William Waller, and that he is good as far as masters go – but he is still a slaveowner. He bought Kunta from his brother John because he was so outraged that his foot was cut off. Kunta learns that he is now living in Spotsylvania County, Virginia.

Years pass quickly for Kunta on the plantation. The seasons and harvests come and go, with Kunta learning more about life in America for slaves and whites alike. Fiddler and Kunta become friends as Kunta learns English, and Kunta is happy after all these years to feel like he is finally getting to know someone. He gets to know the gardener and Bell better as well. He realizes that everyone has stories and backgrounds they want to share, and that if he only asks he can grow closer to people.

The first stirrings of the Revolutionary War come to the plantation. Luther brings back news from the outside about the war as it progresses, and Bell listens in on Master Waller’s conversations as well. Bell reveals that she can read a little, and tries to piece together more news from their master’s newspapers. Finally the war ends. Kunta realizes he is 34 years old and has been in America as long as he lived in The Gambia, leading him to question the meaning of his life.

Luther is sold off when the master discovers that a housegirl ran away with a map drawn by Luther. Kunta is promoted to being the master’s buggy driver. He drives Master Waller all over the county since he is a doctor. He takes him to social calls at other estates of family and friends, including his former master John Waller’s house when Waller’s wife has a baby girl, Anne.

At a big Thanksgiving Ball at Master Waller’s parents house Enfield, Kunta hears a man playing a drumlike gourd and knows this man must be from Africa. He meets the older man briefly, and in the next year, 1788, they are able to visit. His name is Boteng Bediako, of the Akan people of Ghana. He is sixty-six years old and called Pompey. The Ghanaian tells Kunta everything he knows about the slave trade in West Africa, as well as a fable about survival. Kunta is incredibly happy to have met the man, and feels like he has had a homecoming.

This encounter spurs Kunta to think more about his heritage and how he is ashamed to have let many of his old customs slip out of use. Kunta considers taking a wife, He thinks about Liza, the cook at Enfield, and Bell, the cook for the Wallers. He starts courting Bell in a shy way. He makes her a mortar and pestle. Gradually they start to talk and become very close, though Bell does most of the talking. They sleep together and decide to get married. Kunta is 39 and Bell is in her early 40s. They marry and move in together.

Kunta’s life is now immensely happier than it has ever been since coming to America. On slave row, casual conversation has started to turn toward the abolitionist movement and what it would be like to be free. Kunta realizes that he has underestimated black in America for years.


This section involves Kunta becoming more comfortable and at home in America. He makes friends on his new plantation, becomes first his master’s gardener and then buggy driver, and happily marries Bell. Master Waller is a strict but not cruel master. The lives of Kunta and his fellow slaves are comparably good.

Kunta’s relationship with the fiddler is his first significant one on the population. Kunta is able for the first time to see what American-born slaves think of those from Africa: “What put me out with you African niggers, looka here! I knowed five or six ack like you! Don’t know how come I took up wid you in de firs’ place! You git over here figgerin’ niggers here ought to be like you is! How you spec’ we gon’ know ‘bout Africa? We ain’t never been dere, an’ ain’t goin’ neither!” the fiddler says (Chapter 54). This is an interesting and useful perspective for Haley to have added. It shows that Kunta’s pride may have blinded him to the realities of losing one’s identity as a slave.

Haley also writes about Kunta’s identity crisis, which spurs positive change in his life. “He was thirty-four rains old!” Kunta thinks. “What in the name of Allah had happened to his life? He has been in the white man’s land for as long as he had lives in Juffure. Was he still an African, or had he become a “nigger,” as the others called themselves? Was he even a man?.... It was as if The Gambia had been a dream he’d had once long ago. Or was he still asleep? And if he was, would he ever waken?” (Chapter 56.) While this quote is desperate and depressing because it reveals that Kunta does not know who he is after so long away from his homeland, it also signifies that he may be thinking about redefining his life. He will never see The Gambia again and the only way he can improve his life is by looking forward.

A significant and heartwarming encounter that reinforces this lesson is that of Kunta with Boteng, the slave from Ghana. Kunta has not spoken with someone from Africa since he left the slave ship, and after all these years it is like a homecoming. Haley’s effective description is that Kunta feels as though he has been talking to his father: “He felt as if he had been talking with his dear father Omoro. No evening of his life had ever meant more to him” (Chapter 61). This shows how starved for love and memory of family Kunta has become. It further spurs Kunta to seek love and connection in his life, which leads to him and Bell falling in love.