Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 47 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 47 Summary

Kunta’s ankles, festering with pus, cause concern for even his masters now. To Kunta’s surprise, the overseer orders Kunta’s leg chains removed. With his leg fetters gone, Kunta rejoices and immediately runs away again. This time he runs toward the heavier forest; however, Kunta is being followed. Samson has been watching Kunta. Because of Kunta’s weak ankles, Samson is able to give repeated blows to Kunta’s chest and abdomen. Kunta is caught again. Samson simply kicks Kunta and throws him into his hut.

Kunta and Samson keep their secret, but their hatred for each other still exists. Kunta realizes that he must go “through the motions” of doing the white man’s work in order to be trusted so that he can run to freedom. As Kunta begins this new mission, he notices a “thick iron wedge” in the dirt. Kunta is able to conceal it and hide it in his hut as a weapon. The weapon Kunta really desires is a knife, but those are kept under very close watch.

Upon repairing a fence one day, Kunta sees “what looked like salt” fall from the sky. Kunta is amazed at the coldness, wetness, and tastelessness of the substance. Both Kunta and the other slave he is working with are amazed at the snow. Kunta suddenly feels that this is the moment he has been waiting for. As they repair the fence, Kunta and his workmate are far away from the others near the deepest forest. Suddenly, Kunta knocks the other black man unconscious, ties him with the fence wire, steals the man’s knife that he had mistakenly set down, and runs into the forest. Kunta wishes that he had killed the man when he hears the other slave bellow for help.

Kunta runs until nightfall, but suddenly he notices that this snow makes his tracks appear like magic. It isn’t long before Kunta hears the dogs on his trail. Kunta turns and kills them both with his knife before running on frantically. The overseer shoots Kunta in the leg in order to stop him. This time, Kunta is whipped until the long welts reveal the muscles underneath.

Kunta is thrown, unconscious, back into his hut. As he slowly comes to, he realizes (to his horror) that he is wrapped in a cloth soaked in the grease from swine. Kunta vomits in disgust at being enveloped in something so offensive to Allah. Kunta vows to take revenge or to die trying.