69 pages 2 hours read

Alex Haley

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1976

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Chapters 1-33

Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

Content Warning: This section of the Guide contains graphic depictions of enslavement, including violence, sexual assault, and death associated with slavery. The source material contains frequent use of racial slurs and racist language, which are reproduced in this guide only through quoted material.

Omoro and Binta Kinte have a son in Juffure, a village in The Gambia, West Africa. They belong to the Mandinka community, which is Muslim. Omoro invites everyone to the naming ceremony and takes seven days to choose the name. Omoro tells his son his name first, then Binta, then the arafang, or teacher, who announces the name. Kunta Kinte is named after his grandfather, Kairaba Kunta Kinte, who came from Mauretania. The arafang recites the names of the Kintes’ Mauretanian ancestors. Omoro takes Kunta out to show him the stars, telling him that the heavens are the only thing greater than himself.

Chapter 2 Summary

Binta takes Kunta with her to the rice fields, where Omoro constructs a shelter for Kunta. Binta feeds Kunta before herself, coats him in shea tree butter, and brings him to Grandma Yaisa’s house. Omoro often takes Kunta into his own hut, showing him the various charms and weapons and telling Kunta that he will be a great warrior one day.

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