Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 59 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 59 Summary

As Kunta is resting, waiting for his master at a different plantation, he is shocked to see white people trudging back from the fields with the slaves. Furthermore, these white people even have their cabins right among the slave cabins on slave row. Kunta is so amazed that he asks the other slaves on the plantation about these strange white ones.

Kunta learns about indentured servants and how many of these white people are called “crackers” or “poor white trash” and are actually worse to black people than the white masters. Even the slaves admit that these white people are so very poor that the slaves would rather be slaves than to live as “white trash.” Kunta begins to resent these lower-class white people even more than the plantation owners because these white indentured servants do everything possible offensive to Allah: smoke, drink, eat pig, gamble, rape, beat their women, fight, and behave without dignity.

The very worst kind of indentured servants, Kunta learns, are called “pattyrollers.” It was a group of this kind who gathered and poked Kunta Kinte as he was led off the slave ship in the harbor. They seem to take joy in beating, torturing, and even dismembering black people. Kunta wonders about the reasons for this. Perhaps it is because they are jealous of the rich white people. Still, Kunta is unable to feel any pity for them. By cutting off half of Kunta’s right foot, these are the kind of people who took away Kunta’s last hope for freedom.

It is 1786. Kunta drives his master back from the county seat with a lot to think about. The people of the county have been yelling, running about, and waving copies of the newspaper, shouting the latest report. In this way, Kunta Kinte learns about a group called the Quakers, who help slaves escape to freedom. Kunta can’t believe that white people would do this! Kunta sees the fears in the plantation owners’ eyes as a result, so Kunta figures these people can’t be all bad to help the slaves like this. In fact, as Kunta takes his master on many different driving excursions, he even hears of a Quaker named John Pleasant who freed more than two hundred of his slaves in his will. Even more shocking is that the state of Massachusetts abolished slavery altogether. When Kunta asks his friends what abolished means, it is the old gardener who replies that someday, it will mean freedom for all of the slaves.