Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 41 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 41 Summary

After seven days of being kept in the brick holding cell, Kunta watches as toubob come in bringing even newer clothes. The white men make all of the prisoners put on what Kunta considers to be strange-looking attire: pants and shirts. While this is happening, Kunta hears the sounds of the toubob getting louder and louder outside. Many white men are gathering for some kind of meeting.

The prisoners sit there, terrified, as three of them at a time are led to the middle of the white men. When it is Kunta Kinte’s turn, he has to be whipped with a leather strap in order to be submissive enough to endure the auction. White men circle him and probe all of his bodily parts to inspect them. Then one white man begins to shout strangely while others bid on Kunta. All the while, the toubob is shouting strange words to the crowd. “Just picked out of the trees! . . . Bright as monkeys!” Kunta Kinte, being a strong young man, fetches a good price: $850.

After Kunta is sold, a man Kunta considers to be a slatee traitor comes to lead him to a “rolling box” (known to the white men as a “cart”). Through looks and gestures, Kunta begs this black man, who has defined Wolof features, to have mercy on Kunta and set him free. As Kunta is pulled through the crowd, the people all laugh and jeer at Kunta. Kunta is chained and loaded into the cart with a sack of grain. The slatee and an important-looking toubob get into the front seat together. The black man, who is also the driver, makes a strange click sound to the horse, and they are off.

Kunta first spends his time in the cart considering whether the chain attaching him to the cart could be broken. Could this be his time to escape? Kunta decides that both the chain and the cart are too strong to be shattered; therefore, he decides to rest limply in the back, refusing any food or covering for the cold.

Kunta sees many strange things as they roll along. He sees a large group of chained black men and women, fully clothed and singing mournfully as they are pulled behind a horse. He sees another group of blacks, hanging their heads in despair, being dragged behind a wagon. He sees vast fields of crops in many colors and many people bent over and working hard. He sees large white houses with columns in the front, small cabins beside them, and fields all around them. At dusk, the group approaches one of these large white houses to stop for the night.