Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 74 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 74 Summary

Kizzy is seven years old; therefore, Bell starts taking her to the big house in order to begin work. Kunta Kinte is unhappy about the prospect of Kizzy doing any kind of toubob work, but he understands the importance of Kizzy working in the house as opposed to the fields. Bell is thrilled with Kizzy’s “accomplishments” of being able to dust shelves, wax floors, and polish the forks, knives, and spoons. Kunta, however, can feel only anger when he hears Bell giving Kizzy instruction on how to be a good, personal maid to a mistress. This is because Bell considers Master Waller to be a “good” master, one of the “quality white folks.” Kunta believes there to be no such thing as a “good” master.

Even William Waller notices Kizzy’s new skills as a personal maid. He always allows Kizzy the entire day off when Missy Anne comes to visit. The two children run around and have fun all day, but these visits make Kunta almost impossible to live with. He treasures the times after Kizzy attends Missy Anne’s church when Kunta has time alone in the buggy with his daughter.

During these treasured times, Kunta points to different things (a cow or the sun, for example) and says the Mandinkan work for each one. Kunta then has Kizzy repeat the word faithfully. It isn’t long before Kizzy asks Kunta for different African words (for her head, her foot, and her finger). At this display of interest in Mandinkan culture, Kunta feels "overwhelmed with his love for her.” Kunta is amused that Kizzy calls every river “Kamby Bolongo” instead of just a “bolongo.”

Kunta also uses these special times to tell Kizzy about her grandparents, where they are, and why they are not with them. He tells her about Juffare and the two brothers who are great travelers and village founders. He tells her where the Gambia is and how they say “months” as “moons” in Africa. He tells her about the trip over in the slave ship and its horrible conditions. He tells her to have respect for all creatures and that he was stolen away as he tried to find some wood to make a drum. He even argues with Kizzy about Missy Anne. Kizzy protests that Missy Anne is her best friend. Kunta’s response is simple and clear: “You can’t be nobody’s frien’ an’ slave both....Cause frien’s don’t own one ‘nother.” Even after Kizzy admits that she wants to belong to Missy Anne when she grows up, she promises that she could never leave her mom and dad. Kunta admits that “we couldn’t never let you go, neither.”