Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 73 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 73 Summary

Kunta takes William Waller to church every other Sunday. He is amazed that plantation owners like his own master would never offer a ride to a poor white person but see nothing wrong with being in the same church with one or nodding their hat in greeting. Kunta does admire the white person’s way of quieter worship, though.

Now Kunta’s thoughts turn toward the “meetings” that Bell attends with much of slave row. Kunta has always made some excuse not to go, but this time she insists because it is Kizzy’s christening. What Kunta doesn’t realize is that Bell has Master Waller himself ask Kunta to drive her and her friends.

When Kunta inquires, angrily, about why Kizzy has to be christened and the meaning behind a christening, he is furious when he finds out that Missy Anne wants Kizzy to attend church with her. However, Kunta realizes that if he says no to Missy Anne, the entire family will be back out in the fields picking cotton.

Kunta reluctantly drives Bell to her “big camp meeting” that Sunday. However, when Kunta realizes the huge numbers of blacks attending, he begins to pay closer attention to the gathering. At first, Kunta sits behind the wagon in such a way that he can see everything going on. After a song is sung, a black preacher gets up to pray and preach (with the congregation replying continually). Then another song is sung with still more preaching. At this point, some of the women shriek the name of Jesus again and again out loud. Kunta is appalled to see that one of the women is Bell.

Suddenly, Kunta sees a similarity between worship in the United States and worship in his homeland of Africa. The people involved simply let their feelings guide them into the proper movements, just like it is in Juffure. After more songs, it’s time for a baptism. The whole group walks to the pond. The preacher and a couple of helpers push down the willing participant under the water until he or she is writhing and thrashing. Only then do they let him or her up to symbolize the Resurrection.

After seeing a baptism or two, Kunta is terrified when it is Kizzy’s turn to be christened. Kunta jumps up from his hiding place and sprints to the pond, where everyone looks at him with frustration. Bell has to pipe up and say that she will explain everything to Kunta later. Luckily for Kunta (and for Kizzy), Kizzy simply has some water sprinkled on her.

Bell knows her husband so well, she knows that he won’t talk about it right away and that he would be starving. They eat their picnic together, Bell glad her husband is there and Kunta glad that Kizzy wasn’t submerged.