Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 104 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 104 Summary

With Chicken George away in England, no one is good enough to tend Tom Lea’s chickens. Lea tries to teach “L’il George” and then Lewis, but he ends up doing most of the training himself. Tom Lea’s birds are losing more fights than they are winning. Even worse, Tom Lea has taken to drinking to ease his pain. The entire slave row fears being sold away.

About this time, Matilda steals away to tell Tom “that she saw him as the family leader” with Chicken George away in England. Sure enough, Tom has turned into a highly skilled blacksmith. With his quiet ways, Tom has won everyone’s heart. Tom confides to Matilda that it just might be better for the family to be sold away from Tom Lea (as long as they stay together in the process).

After Tom Lea sells some of his prize cocks for hundreds of dollars, the slaves begin to fear the worst. Their worst fears are realized in 1856 when a slave trader appears on the plantation and walks with Tom Lea directly down to Tom’s blacksmith shop to ask some questions. The slave trader finds out that Tom is twenty-three, with no wife of his own yet, and probably the best blacksmith in the state. Tom is sure to impress on the Slave Trader that the Lea slaves are a family and wish to stay together.

Tom Lea gathers the slaves, but it is the slave trader who makes the announcement. Tom Lea has insisted that the slaves be sold together, much to the chagrin of the trader. They will be sold to Master Murray in Alamance County, North Carolina and will live close to the North Carolina Railroad Company where Tom can be of use as a blacksmith. Unfortunately, Kizzy and Sister Sarah and Miss Malizy will be left behind. Tom offers to buy Kizzy, Uncle Pompey, and the others, but Tom Lea says that they can only go when the three hundred dollars apiece is in his hand.

Before the group is shipped off without their “Gran’mammy Kizzy,” Kizzy urges them not to forget to tell the children about Kunta Kinte and the family’s history. “Tell de chillums all de res’ about who we is!” Tom and the others promise to do so. Just as they are about to leave, they decide to kiss Uncle Pompey one more time and find him sitting in his chair, dead.