Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 77 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 77 Summary

In 1800, the slaves on the Waller plantation are scared to learn that William Waller’s brother, John Waller, is coming to keep an eye on things at the house for a few weeks. John Waller is Kunta’s former master who drinks and smokes and treats his slaves poorly. Kunta tries not to show his displeasure, but he knows that Bell and Kizzy will be without him for that week. Kunta will be driving the buggy for his own master to attend an important meeting—the reason William Waller has been called away.

Bell is disgusted with John Waller’s treatment of both the slaves and even of the plantation house. Bell is considering this when a white man approaches the house and asks to speak to John Waller. In a few minutes, John frantically and angrily insists that Bell call all of the slaves together. The slaves line up behind the big house and John flies at them with a gun in hand. John Waller yells the latest news: a revolt has has just been crushed in Richmond. A large group of slaves, headed by a man named Prosser, planned to kidnap the governor and murder large groups of white people. John Waller forbids the slaves to gather. He will be patrolling the plantation to keep order. The slaves are only allowed back to their own cabins at the end of the day. Anyone who disobeys is threatened with a bullet between the eyes.

The slaves are terrified. They are allowed no further news. John Waller even burns every newspaper he reads so that none of the slaves can find it in the trash. The slaves are less worried about Kunta than they are about Fidder, who was out playing at one of the parties in Richmond. Fiddler has not yet returned even though Kunta and the master have come back. After John Waller leaves, even William Waller sends a notice to the sheriff about the legitimacy of Fiddler being on the road. The sheriff knows nothing of what happened to Fiddler.

Kunta is returning with that very message when he hears a strange voice in the woods. It’s Fiddler, bruised and beaten, but alive. Kunta and Fiddler swing each other around in happiness at seeing one another. Fiddler climbs into the buggy, and they ride to the plantation together. Fiddler tells Kunta everything he has seen and heard. News of the revolt came right in the middle of the party Fiddler attended. Fiddler ended up jumping out the window and crawling through the woods to return home. Fiddler was caught only once, but he played the fiddle so hard for those poor whites that they let him go. Finally, Fiddler came upon Kunta.

When Kunta returns to the plantation with Fiddler, the slaves are overjoyed. Fiddler is deeply moved by the outpouring of affection for him.