Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 42 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 42 Summary

As the group stops for the night, Kunta Kinte is chained securely to a pole. After the black driver (the one Kunta has been referring to as the “slatee”) leaves Kunta alone, Kunta wonders whether the blacks on this plantation might free him. His hopes are dashed, however, when the blacks who live near the big white house simply gather around him and laugh. Kunta marvels at how these black people could laugh and jeer at their own kind. What is wrong with them? “They looked as Africans looked, but clearly they were not of Africa.”

In the early evening, Kunta imagines himself desperately raging against his chains. Kunta knows, however, that this is not the time to try for escape. Although Kunta is given two small pans of food and water, it is a dog from the farm that comes and eats the food. Thinking that it was Kunta who ate the food, the black driver returns and expresses his approval. Far into the night, Kunta wonders why Allah has abandoned him. Kunta recounts his life in regard to anything he may have ever done wrong. The only thing he can think of doing wrong more than once is allowing his mind to wander. Still, Kunta rests there until morning and then begins to pray.

In the morning, Kunta is hoisted back into the cart, and the three set out again. On this second day of travel, Kunta sees and hears other strange things. First, he hears the definite clanking sound of a blacksmith. Later, he sees an “actual family of toubob,” all bearing red hair. The little toubob actually run, laughing and pointing, behind the cart for a bit. Next, Kunta sees a “strange pair of people,” two Native Americans, who walk on the road going in the opposite direction. Their “skin was reddish-brown” and their hair hung like black ropes along their backs.

Night begins to fall, and the driver throws a blanket to Kunta. Kunta shivers in the cold and refuses to use the blanket. Kunta prays and vows to tell all the people of Africa about this land of the toubob, if he is ever to return to his native land. Finally, the group reaches another great white house that is their destination. Being later in the night, the welcoming party isn’t as big. After the white men leave the driver in charge of Kunta, they retreat back into the white house.

The driver disconnects Kunta’s chain from the wagon, and Kunta is upon him. Kunta’s hands clasp the neck of the driver until he gurgles and falls limp. Kunta runs away through the fields of cotton as he notes “the pleasure of feeling so wildly free.”