Roots by Alex Haley: Summary & Review

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Alex Haley is an African American novelist known as the author of Roots. This is the novel based on his own family history. The author sets upon a journey to find his roots, and so he investigates and traces his roots back in the village of Jaffure in Gambia in Africa. The novel starts with the story of a boy named Kunta Kinte, kidnapped by white people in Gambia in 1767. The novel unfolds his ordeal, the struggle of his life. He is forced to work as a slave in the inhuman way on white people’s land. The story reveals how he is torn away from his roots, how his coming generations also have to face that inherited slavery.

Kunta’s Marriage and Kizzy is Born

Kunta is married to Bell, his plantation’s cook, and has a daughter named Kizzy. Kunta teaches his daughter some African words and tells her about Africa and his village Jaffure. He asks Kizzy to pass on this information about her ancestors to her next generation. Kizzy is sold away to an English master named Tom Lea who rapes her. Eventually Kizzy gives birth to a son named George.

Chicken George Marries Mathilda, His Son Tom Marries Irene, Cynthia is Born

George takes care of his master’s fighting cocks and soon gets famous as Chicken George. He gets married to Mathilda, an African slave woman. Mathilda’s fourth son is named Tom after George’s father. Tom becomes a blacksmith and the leader of the family. He marries a half native American woman, Irene, who is originally an Indian slave. Cynthia is born as the youngest of Tom and Irene and grows up to be the author’s grandmother.

Civil War Begins, Cynthia Becomes Grandmother of the Author

The civil war begins in 1861 and the family gets freedom after five years. Soon the family moves to Henning, Tennessee. Cynthia marries Will Palmer who becomes the owner of Henning’s only lumber business. Cynthia gives birth to a daughter named Bertha. Bertha marries a man named Simon Alexander Haley and soon gives birth to Alex Haley, the author of the book.

Alex Haley’s Search is Complete

Seven generations pass away and finally, the author, a descendant of the seventh generation, is able to relocate his roots in the far away village of Africa. The people in the village of Jaffure call him ‘Mr. Kinte’ and feel happy at getting back someone who is long lost. The story makes us experience the pain of being torn away from one’s roots and then the joy of finding one’s roots back.

Publication Details of Roots

Author: Alex Haley

Title: Roots

Country: United States

Language: English

Publisher: Doubleday

Publication Date: 17 August, 1976

In 1977, the book was adapted into a hugely popular tv miniseries. Roots won nine awards including Golden Globe and Peabody award.

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