Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 58 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 58 Summary

Kunta Kinte drives his master to John Waller’s plantation almost daily now, on account of the fact that William Waller absolutely adores his little niece, Missy Anne Waller. Everyone notices that William smiles more (probably replacing the love for his own dead wife and child with love for his little niece), but Kunta doesn’t care and is amazed at how much the other slaves do care. Kunta Kinte simply does his job and keeps to himself as much as he can.

On one of Doctor Waller’s many house calls, Kunta sees a black woman nursing a black child on one breast and a white child on the other. Kunta is disgusted by this and is absolutely revolted when he finds out that black nursemaids are commonplace in the South. Kunta is equally upset by the games that children play. Black children pretend to be slaves or animals, while the white children pretend to be the masters of the plantation. Kunta is told about the close bonds between many black and white children who grow up together. Some young whites feign sickness at the thought of their special companion being sold away. Others bring their companion to college with them.

The plantation owners worry again of slave revolts and complain about having allowed the blacks to join them in the American Revolution. When Kunta hears his master speak of these things on a buggy ride, Kunta sits rigid as he hears of the questionable deaths that the doctor has been attending. Sure enough, Kunta has heard about blacks doing horrible things to white people to take revenge: killing babies by stabbing them in the head with a pin, cooks putting arsenic and glass in their masters’ food, nurses beating young white children, maids filling pies with their excrement, and so on.

Although these things seemed far away from Kunta’s plantation, Kunta had both heard of them and dismissed them. To Kunta, there were too many “overwhelming odds.” Worse, Kunta now thinks that the slaves are their own worst enemy, doing the bidding of their masters with happiness and abandon. Kunta is disgusted to think that many of the very slaves he works with would still be on the plantation, happily working, if the master went away for a full year, giving no instruction. Kunta isn’t sure whether his thoughts stem from getting old or from growing up; however, Kunta knows that now he simply wants to be left alone.