Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 57 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 57 Summary

Kunta’s reverie is disturbed by some other terrible news. William Waller’s driver has drawn an escape map for a runaway slave. Because he broke one of Waller’s rules, the driver is sold at the next auction. The plantation is abuzz as to who would replace the driver. It isn’t long before Bell calls Kunta into the big house to talk to William Waller.

Kunta enters the big house and is amazed at all of its grandness: rugs on the floor, paper on the walls, books, furniture, gold and such. The master is most impressed that Kunta doesn’t drink and seems loyal. Waller mentions, with a scowl, what happened with the previous driver and threatens to sell both Kunta and Bell if anything like that were to happen again. Still, Kunta Kinte becomes the driver of master William Waller, and Fiddler becomes the gardener.

Kunta, though never feeling any dignity in slavery to the white man, is a little excited to be a traveler like his uncles back in Africa. However, that excitement dies down quite soon because of the taxing work Kunta is now doing. Because Waller is a doctor, he is summoned at all hours of the night to tend to the sick. It is Kunta who must drive his master on these excursions, and he always gets Waller there and back safely, even when road conditions are horrible.

One day, the call for the doctor is from Waller’s own brother (Kunta’s former master), who comes in on a horse galloping at breakneck speed. “Massa John’s” wife is having a baby. Kunta drives William to his brother’s home, and John’s wife has a beautiful baby girl whom the slaves all call “Missy Anne.”

There are also more leisurely times when Kunta’s master would visit his parents a distance away, and Kunta would marvel at the nature around him. Kunta especially takes note of large, lone trees that remind him of the baobab trees in Africa. Those trees, standing alone, are symbols of where a village once stood.

Unfortunately, Kunta’s travels require him to be sociable with the blacks of these other plantations. He is especially disgusted with the cook named Hattie Mae, whom Kunta sees when Waller goes to visit his parents. Hattie May drones on and on about the Waller family and the historical aspects of the Waller houses. Other cooks are just as annoying, like the one who jingles her keys to show her superiority and who shows Kunta a room of swords and armor. The strangest thing to Kunta is hearing these slaves refer to their plantations as if they belong to the slaves themselves.