Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 83 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 83 Summary

A week after Kizzy turns sixteen, Noah is gone. Only Kizzy and Kunta exchange knowing looks about Noah’s plan of escape. The slaves begin their morning with breakfast and then realize that Noah is not among them. First, they are angry that Noah overslept; but not finding him in the cabin, they know something is amiss. After searching the entire plantation, they know they have to tell Master Waller. Bell suggests they not tell him until after his breakfast.

When Bell breaks the news to Waller, he wonders whether Noah is just philandering among other plantations. He says Noah will be sorry if he actually is trying to escape. Waller gives Noah until the next morning before Kunta is asked to hitch up the buggy for a ride to the jailhouse. Master Waller then tells the sheriff that Noah, having broken one of the plantation’s rules, will be sold down South immediately if he is ever caught.

It is Sunday morning when the sheriff appears at the Waller plantation and sprints into the house. A few minutes later, Kizzy is called inside. Kunta and Bell, panic stricken, run inside the big house. William Waller coldly tells them that Noah has been caught but nearly killed two white men with his knife in the process of escaping. Noah was carrying a traveling pass forged by Kizzy. Kunta and Bell ask to be sold along with Kizzy, but Master Waller refuses to listen. Kunta tries to grab Kizzy by the waist, but he is beaten to the ground. Bell flies into a frenzy of despair and panic as Kizzy is chained and thrown into the back of the sheriff’s wagon, screaming first for her parents and then for Missy Anne.

As Bell weeps in the wagon’s wake, Kunta picks up the dust from Kizzy’s footprints and runs back to his cabin. As Kunta runs, he thinks about the old African tradition way back in Juffare. Anyone who saves the dust from the footprints from where a person last stood will assure his/her return to that very spot. Just as Kunta is about to drop the precious dust into the gourd with the pebbles that count the months, Kunta realizes that he will never see his daughter again. He throws the dust and the gourd to the ground in anger and despair.