The major theme that runs through Roots is the Afro-American quest for identity. Haley's contention that [one] "can never enslave somebody who knows who he is" serves as the fundamental rationale for the book. White masters in the South assumed that African slaves were nameless primitives devoid of culture and customs. It is an arrogant attempt to strip Kinte of his family and heritage when the white master on a whim renames Kinte "Toby," one small step in the deculturization of a race and a family, a step downward from freedom to slavery. Such cumulative degradation eventually...
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