Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 86 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 86 Summary

The birth of George brings a bit of joy back to the Lea plantation. The old slave everyone calls Uncle Pompey, who never gave a second glance to Kizzy before, now coos at her son. When Kizzy brings George to the field for the first time, Uncle Pompey points to a new little shelter he made for the baby under the shade of some nearby trees. Kizzy is very moved. She now can work in the fields, tending to her baby whenever he cries. The two other field hands, Sister Sarah and Miss Malizy, squabble over who gets to carry little George back to the cabins when the day is done. Still, at night, Kizzy does her best to keep George awake as long as she can before breastfeeding him and allowing him to fall asleep. She is still terrified that her little son will awaken to the sight of his mom getting raped.

One afternoon, the other field slaves talk about the slave named George who is little George’s namesake. George was one of Tom Lea’s only slaves when he bought this land. George cleared all of this land and then his heart gave out.

When Kizzy asks why the master has fighting chickens, the slaves marvel at the richness of Kizzy’s former “good” master. Kizzy is also surprised to hear that there is another slave she hasn’t yet seen. Mingo tends only to Tom Lea’s chickens.

As Kizzy works in the fields daily, little George learns to eat real food and then to crawl and to talk. Soon he gets into such a bad habit of eating dirt that Kizzy has to allow George to spend the day in the big house. As George grows, everyone is amazed at his confidence and independence.

Kizzy begins to share more and more about her past with the slaves on the Lea plantation. One day Kizzy tells Miss Malizy about Noah. Kizzy often imagines Noah simply showing up and them running off together to freedom. However, when Sister Sarah offers to read Kizzy’s fortune, the result is so distressing that Kizzy runs out of the cabin screaming. Little George is frightened by his mother’s outburst and runs to her. Kizzy simply tells George to be quiet. Kizzy doesn’t have the heart to tell little George the news: she will never see Kunta, Bell, or Noah again.