Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 45 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 45 Summary

Kunta decides to approach life with a look of “blankness and stupidity” so that the white men believe Kunta to be subdued. This is the best precursor to a good escape.

Kunta doesn’t let anything go undetected. He keeps his eyes alert in the cabin of the cook, who has all sorts of utensils that can be useful to Kunta. Kunta notices the uselessness of spoons but looks longingly at the forks and knives that can be used to stab. On this particular morning, Kunta’s breakfast is disturbed by the squeal of a pig being killed and boiled. Kunta is disgusted at these people who prefer herding filthy swine to herding useful goats.

Kunta is still in awe when he sees Allah in nature. These thoughts help unite him with Africa. He sees the sun rise and set each day. He sees the frost and haze disappear during the day. He sees the moon in the sky. Kunta longs to be back in Africa with his own people.

At lunchtime, the cook brings stew and cakes out to the people in the fields. Kunta carefully observes the food so that he never puts a morsel of pork in his mouth. He begins to recognize some foods from home, such as okra, black-eyed peas, and nuts. They all have different names here, Kunta notices, but they are the same foods nonetheless.

Kunta notices that the “master” comes out to the fields some days. The overseer is even more vigilant than usual at those times in keeping the slaves on task. It seems to Kunta that these slaves simply do all that toubob asks of them. Kunta realizes that it’s probably because they were born here instead of in Africa. “Kunta vowed never to become like them” and to escape as soon as he could. Kunta knows he must make a “saphie charm” to protect him, make or find some kind of weapon, memorize the landscape, learn the toubob speech, and acquaint himself with the farther countryside.

Kunta marvels at the differences between this place and Africa. There are no flocks of squawking parrots or howling monkeys, only tweeting birds and horses. The sun is not so hot and the people herd pigs instead of goats. Kunta wonders about the other men and women who were on the boat with him. Kunta assumes that they have been taken to other horrible farms like this one. Still, every day, Kunta wears his “expressionless mask” as he observes his captors and surroundings with skill.