Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 15 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 15 Summary

Kunta Kinte’s mother, Binta, is now carrying Omoro’s third child; therefore, Kunta naturally takes on greater responsibility with his little brother, Lamin. As a result, the relationship between Kunta and his brother grows and strengthens.

One day, Kunta responds to his mother’s weary demeanor with his brother and asks Lamin out on an errand. Lamin is so overjoyed, he cannot contain himself. Every day following, Lamin waits for his brother to take him on some little journey as a goatherd’s sidekick. Kunta is a bit surprised to see that this seems to be happening with all of his friends. The little brothers are always tagging along. First, the boys have a good time making fun of the little ones. They watch as Lamin and the others fall or stumble. However, when Kunta is alone with his little brother, Kunta begins to use these moments as teaching time. In fact, even Binta has ceased chiding Kunta and begins telling Lamin to “have your brother’s manners!”

Kunta proves himself to be a protective big brother one day when a rough acquaintance knocks Lamin down. Kunta almost fights his friend over his emotionally wounded, “sniveling” baby brother. After this, Lamin copies everything Kunta does. Kunta feels proud.

The teaching moments that Kunta has with Lamin allow for lots of learning. Lamin learns to climb trees properly. He learns what leaves his mother uses for tea. He learns to wrestle. He learns to whistle. He learns never to harm a dung beetle or to touch a rooster’s spur to avoid bad luck. He learns about birds and the Koran and the world in the Gambia. Lamin doesn’t always absorb things so quickly, however, and Kunta gets discouraged when Lamin can’t seem to learn to tell time by the sun. This teaches Kunta patience.

Something else is weighing heavily on Kunta’s mind: he is still only a child. The adults seem to merely tolerate Kunta, while the boys after manhood training only sneer at him. The girls, however, are the worst. They constantly remind the boys that they are already ready to marry. Being a boy is an embarrassment to Kunta, but at least he has his new, close relationship with his brother.

Kunta prides himself daily with answering the streams of questions flowing from Lamin’s lips. Kunta is surprised at his own wisdom. However, Kunta is quick to ask Binta or Omoro if he does not have the right answer to give to Lamin. It isn’t long before Kunta himself is scolding Lamin for little things and becoming more of a man in his own mind.