John Reynolds, his owner, does not receive as much cash as he has expected from the sale of his crop of tobacco, so, to settle a debt to his brother, Dr. William Reynolds Robert Reed , the local physician , transfers several of his slaves, including Kunta and Fiddler, to William. Kunta tries again to escape, but a pair of slave-catchers seize him, bind him, and chop off about half his right foot to limit his ability to run away again.
Kunta meets Bell Madge Sinclair , the cook for William's family. Bell successfully treats both Kunta's mangled foot and his wounded spirit. By he eventually submits to the harsh life, and he marries Bell in a ceremony, which includes jumping across a broom. Bell bears a daughter, to whom Kunta gives the name Kizzy, which means "stay put" in the Mandinka language. Fiddler continues to mentor and befriend Kunta, and Fiddler eventually dies at an old age in Turn of the 19th century[ edit ] An adulterous relationship between Dr.
Missy Anne Sandy Duncan and Kizzy Leslie Uggams , about two years younger than Anne, become playmates and best friends within the social limits of the plantation culture. Anne secretly teaches Kizzy to read and write, and both Anne and Bell, Kizzy's mother, strictly and severely caution Kizzy to avoid allowing anyone else to learn about her clandestine and forbidden education.
In Kizzy, in her teen years, falls in love with Noah Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs , another slave at William's plantation, but Noah runs away and is caught and returned. During a beating Noah reveals that Kizzy has forged for him a traveling pass by copying a similar pass which Anne has given to Kizzy.
William has previously assured his slaves that he would keep them all together at his plantation, not selling away any of them against their will as long as they "follow the rules". However, William regards the pass and the escape to be such serious breaches of trust that he separately sells both Noah and Kizzy.
Much weeping and wailing attend the departure of Kizzy, who desperately reaches out to Anne for help, only to be coldly shunned by her for helping Noah in his escape. Early 19th century[ edit ] In Sam Bennett Richard Roundtree , a fancy carriage driver and a suitor who seeks to impress, takes Kizzy for a short visit to the plantation of Dr. William Reynolds, in the hope that she can see her parents. Kizzy learns that Bell has been sold away, and that Kunta has died two years back. Kizzy sees her father's grave and his wooden marker; using a small stone, she scratches over the name Toby and writes below it "Kunta Kinte".
George Ben Vereen , under the tutelage of Mingo Scatman Crothers , an older slave, learns much about cockfighting , and, by direction of Tom Moore, their master, George takes over as the chief trainer, the "cock of the walk". George befriends a free black man and fellow cockfighter, who informs him about the possibility of buying his own freedom. In , a now adult George continues to believe Moore to be a friend until he realizes his master's true feeling when he and his family are threatened at gunpoint by Moore and his wife, as a result of the Nat Turner rebellion.
Although none of Moore's slaves are personally involved in the rebellion, they become victims of the paranoid suspicions of their master, so they start planning to buy their freedom. In an emotional scene Kizzy reveals to George the identity of his father.
George becomes an expert in cockfighting, thus earning for himself the moniker "Chicken George". Moore eventually bets a huge sum on his best bird, which George has trained, but he loses, and he cannot pay. Moore promises to set George free after George returns. In one brief scene Kizzy and Anne Reynolds, both elderly, face each other one last time, and Missy Anne denies that she "recollects" a "darkie by the name of Kizzy".
Kizzy then spits into Anne's cup of water without Anne's realizing. The Civil War[ edit ] George returns 14 years later, in , shortly before the start of the Civil War. He proudly announces that Moore, after some reluctance on Moore's part and some persuasion on George's part, has kept his word by granting George his freedom. He also learns that his relatives have spoken well of him during his absence.
He further learns that, according to a law in North Carolina, if he stays 60 days in that state as a freed slave, he will lose his freedom, so he heads northward, seeking the next stage in his career as a cockfighter and awaiting the end of the war, the emancipation of the slaves, and another reunion of his family.
While the war continues to its inevitable end, a hungry and destitute young white couple from South Carolina, George and Martha Johnson Brad Davis and Lane Binkley , arrive and ask for help, and the slave family take them in. Martha soon gives birth, but the child is stillborn.
The white couple stays on with Tom and his wife, and becomes a part of their community. Eventually, a month before the surrender by the South , Jemmy deserts the Confederate Army during the final desperate days of the war, and he shows up at Tom's blacksmith shop. Tom reluctantly runs an errand for him but, on returning, he finds Jemmy trying to rape Irene, and in the resulting fight Tom drowns him in the quenching tub.
Later Evan, now an officer in the Confederate cavalry , arrives at the shop, demands to know about Jemmy, gets no answer, and angrily tells Tom that he has not yet finished with him. After the war several local white men, led by Evan Brent and wearing white hoods made from fabric sacks from Evan's store begin to harass and terrorize Tom, his family, and other members of his community.
Tom emerges as the leader among his group. As the local blacksmith, Tom devises a horseshoeing method to identify the horses involved in the raids by the hooded men.
But when Tom reports his suspicions and his evidence to the sheriff, in sympathy with Evan and knowing every member of the white mob, tips off Evan. Evan's mob leads another raid against Tom, during which Tom is whipped savagely. George Johnson, in his capacity as the overseer of the plantation, intervenes and is forced to whip Tom once, to his own horror and disgust, in order to save his friend's life.
Meanwhile, the former owner of the farm, Sam Harvey, is forced to surrender all of his property to Senator Arthur Justin Burl Ives , a local politician intent on acquiring as much land as possible. Under the terms of the surrender, his former slaves are allowed to stay on as sharecroppers, with eventual rights to own a part of the land.
However, because no written deed has been filed, the senator deems the agreement void and imposes heavy debts on the black farmers. Postwar[ edit ] Several years later Chicken George unexpectedly returns, raises the spirits of his relatives and friends, and begins to plot their next step. He reports that he has bought some land in Tennessee.
Using some cunning and deception of their own, the group makes preparations for their move away. After one final confrontation with Evan and his gang, George and his company start their trek from North Carolina to Tennessee.
In the last scene George and his group arrive on his land in Henning , Lauderdale County , Tennessee, to start their new life. George retells part of the story from Kunta Kinte in Africa to himself in Tennessee. Then Alex Haley briefly narrates a montage of photographs of family members connecting Tom's daughter, Cynthia, a great-great-granddaughter of Kunta Kinte, to Haley himself. For the continuation of the story from the late 19th century into the 20th century, see Roots: