Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 48 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 48 Summary

The only two slaves who will now acknowledge Kunta’s presence are the woman who cooks and the older man who plays the fiddle. The others avoid Kunta like the plague. Kunta doesn’t know why, but Samson is nowhere to be seen. It isn’t until a few days later when Kunta again sees Samson. Samson also has a back that is now full of red welts, so he has been whipped as well. Kunta realizes now that Samson was somehow responsible for Kunta’s obedience.

Kunta is watched at all times; he is even watched by other slaves. Riding high upon his horse in the fields of crops, the overseer needs no excuse to rain blows down upon Kunta. In his extreme loneliness, Kunta begins to have imaginary conversations with the members of his family. Kunta forces himself to behave submissively, just like the other blacks do, when the overseer and other white people are around. Kunta lives a miserable existence like this through the spring and into the summer.

Soon the tobacco and the cotton are ready for harvest. The slaves are, therefore, made to rise earlier in the morning and return later at night. Kunta describes the bags of cotton he is forced to pick and how the contents of these bags are loaded into carts and stored. However, Kunta is most interested in the tobacco now because he sees carts passing along the road carrying tobacco back and forth. Kunta realizes that he can escape in one of these carts if he is wily and clever enough.

Kunta begins to make his plans of escape in a tobacco cart. Kunta makes a habit of standing for long periods of time behind the outhouse at night. This position gives Kunta the best view of the dirt road from the moonlight. Kunta counts the number of carts as well as the time in between them. The lanterns the drivers carry create soft, yellow lights that Kunta can see far into the distance. These carts go a long way and leave no smell for the baying hounds to detect.

In his planning, Kunta thinks a lot about having to spend so much time in the back of a dirty cart filled with loathed tobacco. This plant is something so offensive to Allah that Kunta convulses at the thought of having to move among piles of it. Still, Kunta admits that Allah would also want Kunta to be free; therefore, Kunta feels “sure that Allah would forgive him.”