Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 85 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 85 Summary

Kizzy is pregnant. The only good part about this is that Tom Lea no longer shows up as often in Kizzy’s cabin. Kizzy has no idea why she is feeling sick all the time or how to bring a baby into this world. She muses on the stories Bell used to tell about storks bringing babies, but then she realizes that women might have to push them out somehow (just like she saw a cow do once).

In 1806, Kizzy has her baby and immediately is alarmed that this baby boy is definitely what Kunta Kinte would call a disgusting “high-yaller” color. Kizzy is so ashamed that she’s actually glad Bell and Kunta can’t see their first grandson. Kizzy wishes again that she had made love to Noah.

It’s Miss Malizy who finally snaps Kizzy out of her depression, telling her that black women having white men’s babies is just the way things are. Further, anyone who notices that her son is a mulatto will surely know that Kizzy’s master is not a quality person. Mizz Malizy finally begs Kizzy to let this child bring some joy into her life and the lives of the other few slaves on the plantation.

Tom Lea is glad, even proud, of the new slave he has produced. He demands that Kizzy start work in the fields. When Kizzy protests, Lea threatens to keep the child and sell Kizzy. Kizzy is beside herself with fear and chagrin at the thought of being sold away from her child. Tom Lea rapes Kizzy after a month even though she hasn’t healed completely from the birth. More than the rape, Kizzy is terrified that her little child will wake up and notice his mother being beaten into submission. Before Tom Lea leaves, he says the child will be called George after a slave he personally worked to death. In despair again, Kizzy abandons her plans to name her child “Kunta Lea” or “Kinte Lea.”

Kizzy remembers Bell joking about how lucky Kizzy was at the Waller plantation, that she didn’t know what being a slave truly meant. Kizzy knows now. She also remembers Kunta telling her about some of these atrocities, but he thought the worst thing masters did was keep their slaves “ignorant of who they are.” Kizzy remembers Bell’s admission of the reason why she fell in love with Kunta: “He was de proudest black man I ever seed!” Kizzy is determined, despite her child’s yellow color, to think of him as the grandson of a great African warrior.