Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 35 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 35 Summary

Kunta knows whether it is day or night only when the hatch is opened at “feeding time.” Tin pans of some kind of white mush are forced in between the people chained in the hold. Kunta Kinte clamps his teeth shut in protest for a long while and is often beaten for doing so. Periodically, more and more people are added to the miserable group, chained alongside the rest.

One day, after all of the other people have been loaded, everyone begins to hear different sounds. They hear sounds of creaking and loading and lifting and straining. Suddenly, they hear many feet bounding up above them and then the entire place groaning and moving. This black stinking place is taking them all away from their homeland. Crying out in pain and hopelessness to Allah, “Kunta knew that he would never see Africa again.”

Soon the cries of despair turn to cries of anger and murder. The entire hold seems to want to “kill toubob—and their traitor black helpers!” Kunta Kinte considers this possibility. Until now, Kunta has been refusing the white man’s food, but now he remembers something important that his kintango once told him: that only a nourished person can defeat his enemy. So Kunta begins to eat, vomiting up most of it at first, but Kunta begins to eat nonetheless.

The cries of anger and murder continue until the people in the hold hear a black man chained who speaks both Mandinka and the white man’s language. All of the other Mandinka men as well as others of other tribes fly into a rage with the knowledge of the traitor among them. Knowing that this is surely one of the black slatee helpers, the men chained beside this slatee beat him until he is dead. The hushed group of people chained together wait for the white men to notice. When they do notice, they drag the dead man to the deck and then beat the perpetrator senseless. Kunta is absolutely paralyzed by the pain this man is feeling. This man had vowed revenge on the white man and his helpers and has succeeded in at least a bit of that revenge. This is how this justified revenge is dealt with. The man’s cries of hate are no longer understandable at the end of the beating. Kunta then hears a Mandinka voice crying out in firm resolution: “Share his pain! We must be in this place as one village!”

Kunta Kinte agrees and vows retribution toward this villainous white man, the toubob.