Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 109 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 109 Summary

Chicken George rides to the Murray plantation and meets Irene along the way. She is astounded to see the man she has only heard about. She introduces herself and explains that she is Tom’s wife, about to give him yet another grandchild.

Everyone rushes in from the fields, the big house, and the blacksmith shop to see Chicken George and hear of his return. First, he tells everyone the bad news of “Gran’mammy Kizzy’s” death. Over supper, George tells the family about his experiences in England fighting English chickens and about how upset he was when Sir Russell made him stay one extra year. Finally it was time to return and George talks about the harrowing journey back to the United States. After braving plenty of storms, the ship finally arrived in New York. From the free blacks there, George learns about the main trouble they have: immigrants taking the jobs of free blacks.

With all his stories told and all the other of Master Murray’s slaves working, Chicken George finds himself at a loss of what to do with himself. Finally, he stumbles upon his first grandchild, Uriah, son of Virgil and his wife. Uriah asks Chicken George where he “works at.” After explaining that Chicken George doesn’t have to work for any master because he’s free, Uriah says, “What free is?” Even though Uriah is fairly slow, Chicken George explains that “Free mean ain’t nobody own you no mo’.” Then Chicken George tells Uriah all about his great grandfather: Kunta Kinte. Overhearing the story yet again, Matilda feels pride for her husband.

Accompanying Tom to the town of Graham, a white man named Mr. Cates, obviously a troublemaker, makes both Tom and Chicken George serve some water. Tom explains that Chicken George is free. Mr. Cates mentions that Mr. Murray must not know the law about free blacks. It isn’t long before Mr. Cates is on the Murray plantation explaining to Mr. Murray that free blacks are only allowed in the state sixty days before they are made slaves again.

That night, Matilda insists that Chicken George leave the family yet again. “You jes’ can’t go back to bein’ a slave!” Chicken George cries at the thought of being separated from the family. Before he leaves, he insists that everyone continue to tell the story of Kunta Kinte and their lineage. Once Tom agrees, Chicken George bolts out the door.