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Book Report: Roots by Alex Haley

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As being considered one of the greatest books of all times, “Roots” has become one of the most phenomenal as well as most influential books that was written in the 1970’s. This book was written by Alexander Murray Palmer Haley known as simply Alex Haley; and by him writing this book he clearly conveys the struggle of being a black slave and the story of a young Kunta Kinte. Alex Haley was merely told the story of Kunta Kinte when he was a child by his family and when he was old enough, he shared what he learned and heard through the writings of the book Roots, which brought life to what he had imagined all his life.

The life of this book is about the capturing of slaves and the inhumane way that they were treated by those who bought them as slaves; however, it is also about a plethora of individuals who would not give up on themselves regardless of what the white man told them or put into their heads. Haley’s quest for his roots changed the way black folk thought about themselves and how white Americans viewed them (Dyson, 2017). He basically wrote individuals into his book that would make blacks believe that they could find their ambition while understanding the very temperament that their ancestors and others may had to go through to simply survive. At this point what Alex Haley tried to leave with those African Americans that read his book is the fact that they can achieve any goal, but only if they look history squarely and directly in the face.

As this book is written in chronological order it begins in the early 1750’s in the village of Juffure, which was said to be about four days away from Gambia, West Africa (Haley, 2017). This is the setting that was given to show exactly where these individuals were and how they were living; which was on their own and free. While Omaro and Binta Kinte were living in West Africa, Binta gave birth to Kunta Kinte. As Kunta was the first male born he was thought to have special blessing not only for himself but for his parents as well, and that their name Kinte would be prideful, distinguished and perpetuated (Haley, 2017). So of course, traditional things were done for this proud and great moment of the Kinte’s, such as the preparing of the traditional breakfast and praying to the Great Allah by the men. It seems this information was added to book by Haley, to show that there were traditions that were to be followed within each culture. It shows that rules were followed without any depiction of anger and or rebellion; such as the men eating first, the wives feeding the children and then lastly eating themselves. This is the way that things were done in that particular time, and in that particular culture. These individuals took care of themselves working, planting, farming and more to make sure that they could take care of their families, but they did it with grace, and ease, poise and belief in knowing that they were demonstrating the acts of a true race and true men. In implementing these particular aspects and cues, Alex Haley seemed to be demonstrating what he truly believed in, which was that men were the head of their families and that they must take care of their families no matter what they endured. As women were to cook and take care of the men and the children and make sure that the children were healthy; however, the men and women/ children all lived in separate huts, but regardless, the strategy was truly that everyone worked together so that they could achieve and prosper so much more.

Haley continued his story throughout the chapters telling of the lifestyle of Kunta and his family as well as the disastrous rains that took over their land. He showed the struggles that the families were faced with and what they went through as they tried to save their crops and savage their lands. Again, Haley pointed out how religion and prayer kept these individuals going day by day, never giving up and always facing hope. The social history of the individuals was phenomenal as they all leaned upon one another and Allah to make it through. The religion that each of them had was strong and untouchable by any means. It seems that Haley must have been a very strong and religious individual as well, to point out so clearly and in depth how these individuals depended on there faith in their Allah (God). To search for solutions on how to make there lands better is what they prayed for, but it also showed that Allah did stop the rain, so he heard their cries.

Throughout this book, although some was said to be fact and some fiction, Haley, demonstrates the visualization of depictions he is trying to make. When he begins to talk about the plantation where Kunta Kinte was sold in Spotsylvania County, there is a feeling of pain and disgust but the fascination around the unbelievable story enables the reader to keep going regardless of how despicable it may be. One of the main parts of this story that lies heavily on feelings; in which Haley was trying to show, was when the Master Wallace and his wife Elizabeth wanted Kunta to say his name was Toby. The mere fact that these people in North America had the right to mistreat individuals who did not look like them, was a pure atrocity. Since, Kunta knew what his name meant there was no way that he was going to accept the name Toby from the white man. With this action, Haley reverted back to what Kunta was taught by his parents; so, it seems to be a specific issue within this book that Haley needed to be acknowledged and exposed for historical purposes.

As this book has little to know pictures, from the many vivid descriptions and details given from the writer, the readers were able to visualize the intensity of the events that took place and the way things were inhumanely done. Especially when the descriptions of the beatings were being described, visually, one could see and feel each mark as the lashes hit the slaves body. Haley basically made sound with the monstrous descriptions that he supplied throughout his book. Making sure that that every metaphor aided the reader in engaging in the reading with there mind, body and soul. Haley again strives to show the empowerment in which Kunta keeps, by showing how many times he tries to run away, which causes him the choice of castration or his foot being cut off. Without a doubt Kunta, chose to have his foot chopped off. In the history of American slavery these types of crimes (in which they should be classed) were not crimes at all, but the impure way of life for a slave owner. As these individuals had an Independent Judiciary and the Colonial Government of the thirteen colonies; they really had slight rules to follow and slaves had no rights nor laws to protect them. Again, this is how Alex Haley seems to be showing the temperament of the government at that time as well as the neglect of another human kind.

The influential story given by Alex Haley throughout the book of Roots, not only shadows opinions of negativity but also opens the doors of the lives that many individuals ancestors had to live. Every moment that this book was being read, there was a feeling of disgust in the judicial system, which is similar to what is taking place today. There were no laws to protect African Americans in the book of Roots, and today even still, the laws are written but do not convey the power needed to solidify the many situation that are taking place. Even with this, Alex Haley shows that the black race were common denominators. The bias to this would definitely be that the world has changed, and that slavery has been abolished. There are so many laws and rules or should it be said Amendments set in place to supposedly counteract the opinion of racial discrimination. Many would fight tooth and nail to prove that there is no unjust going on in America today; but still many would beg to differ.

The book of Roots written by Alex Haley was not only educational and informational, but it was a pure eye opener to some things that many may not have known. Regardless of whether it is a fact or fiction book, it was written so well that it would enhance the knowledge of those who read it. It is quite understandable as to why it is considered so powerful and also considered a phenomenal read. It is a reminder of the historical value of our history and it sheds light on the many things that some have seem to have forgotten. It is a reminder of why we should not only respect and appreciate the struggles in which our ancestors were engaged in throughout their lifetime. Roots should be a reminder of the importance of not letting history repeat itself. There is no reason why any African American should be illiterate to the infinite history that Roots declares in it reading, nor should they be uncompelled to accept history.

I personally thought that this book was well written and an outstanding read. It is an excellent book that brings historical value and a lot of historical factors that need to ensure that history will not repeat itself. I could not imagine living in a situation where I had to walk in the shoes of a slave. I do believe that this book was clear and concise and made the valuables points that it was intended to make. I feel that our predecessors were put here for a reason and that was to endure the bondage of the enslavement in which they had to go through, did not reciprocate to the future African Americans. I feel as though without the negative history that was shunned upon our people, we would not be as strong as we are today, because we are now able to have a voice and opinion, and we can also express our beliefs. In the end, Alex Haley, book Roots was amazing and does withstand the test of time.

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Book Report: Roots By Alex Haley. (2021, August 06). GradesFixer. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from
“Book Report: Roots By Alex Haley.” GradesFixer, 06 Aug. 2021,
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