Roots: The Saga of an American Family Chapter 97 Summary

Alex Haley

Chapter 97 Summary

A full year later, the fear and anger inspired by the Nat Turner slave revolt finally begins to subside. Ironically, after the worry about the revolt abates, George and Tom are closer than ever. In fact, Tom kicks the dust one day and asks why one of George’s children hasn’t been named after Tom. George is surprised and pleased. He names his fourth son Tom Lea. Both Chicken George and Tom Lea hope and pray that there are not other serious slave revolts for as long as they both live. It made life horrible for both of them and inspired nothing but anger and fear on the part of the plantation owners and their slaves.

Chicken George and Tom Lea are preparing to travel all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana, to fight their top gamecocks. Tom Lea plans to win himself a fortune and gain a name for himself across the entire South. Chicken George plans to do the same. When Tom Lea asks George how Mingo is doing, Chicken George has to be honest and tell his master that Mingo’s health is deteriorating a bit. He often has “coughing fits” that last the whole night. Both Tom and George dread having to tell Mingo that he can’t go to New Orleans.

Chicken George can’t wait for the trip to Louisiana. As he massages and conditions their best gamecocks for the fights, George imagines the beautiful creole women he will meet there as well as the authentic African dances he will see. George is so caught up in his reverie about New Orleans and the good relationship with Tom Lea that he is surprised that Kizzy and Matilda don’t like the name Tom for their fourth son. Kizzy just wishes it were some other Tom that is this child’s namesake. After Matilda spouts some Bible verses at him, George storms out, sick of being lectured all of the time. He sees nothing wrong with indulging in the urges he has “just for being human.” Both Chicken George and Tom Lea indulge in such urges every time they finish a cockfight abroad.

Despite Chicken George’s anger toward his family, he still calls everyone together one more time before the trip to again tell the story of Kunta Kinte. Kizzy has to admit that her son is a good man. Chicken George again feels at home in slave row.