Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 112 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 112 Summary

The North and the South continue fighting. Tom hears more news at his shop, but luckily doesn’t have to shoe horses for the Confederates anymore. Tom’s mood is lightened a bit when he hears the white plantation owners getting more upset about the way the war is going. Tom begins to hope again that someday he and his family might be free.

About this time, Ol’ George mentions that he has to “’tend to some business” and will be back as soon as he can. Matilda, Irene, and the other slaves talk extensively about what George may have needed to “’tend to,” but none remembers him mentioning any family, only that his crops were destroyed. The mystery is solved when Ol’ George returns with his wife, Martha. Ol’ George explains that he married Martha right before he left South Carolina looking for work. He had promised his wife that he would return as soon as he had a steady position. George was as shocked as anyone else that Martha was already carrying his child.

Ol’ George and Martha become more and more worried that Master Murray won’t allow both of them to stay. Luckily, Matilda goes up to the big house and, after cooking some of their favorite foods, talks with Mrs. Murray first about how scared Martha is about being rejected. Mrs. Murray has a heart for Martha and convinces her husband to be kind as well. Master Murray, then, allows them to stay on as a team.

George and Martha thank the Murrays and slaves for their kindness, compassion, and friendship. Tom and family know they have gained yet another friend in Martha. It is still an amazement to be friends with a white person and a further amazement that a white person could be friends with black people. Irene says it all when she exclaims, “Lawd! I sho’ ain’t never thought I’d end up likin’ no po’ white folks!”

Everyone is a bit worried, however, because Martha doesn’t seem in good health. Because she is skin and bones, her pregnancy gives her the appearance of having swallowed a pumpkin. When Martha finally goes into labor, she has a very hard time. Martha labors for days, in extreme pain. Matilda and Irene tend to the birth; however, when they emerge from Martha’s cabin, their faces show sadness and despair. Ol’ George is now the daddy of a little baby girl but even though Martha survives, the baby dies.