Study Guide

Roots: The Saga of an American Family Characters

By Alex Haley

Kunta Kinte

Kendrick Lamar sums up Kunta Kinte best (because of course he does; he's the brilliant Kendrick...

Chicken George

If Kunta Kinte is the star quarterback, Chicken George is the class clown. If Kunta Kinte is...

Tom

In many ways, Tom is the most fitting heir to the Kinte legacy…because he combines...

Bell

When Mick Jagger sang, "You can't always get what you want/ but if you try sometimes/ you just...

Kizzy

Move aside, Marmee. Move aside, Annie John Sr. There's a new matriarch in town.Kizzy seems to...

Omoro Kinte

Kunta learns a lot from his stern father Omoro, and those lessons prove invaluable to him as he...

Binta Kinte

Binta and Kunta butt heads sometimes, as mothers and sons often do, but the love between them...

Lamin, Suwadu, and Madi Kinte

Lamin, Suwadu, and Madi are Kunta's three brothers. Kunta acts as a mentor figure to Lamin when...

Nyo Boto

Nyo Boto's an old midwife from Juffure. And she's also Kunta's favorite person in the universe...

Grandmother Yaisa

Grandmother Yaisa's Kunta Kinte's grandmother—and we wish she were our grammy. She teaches...

Massa Waller

Massa Waller's a nicer guy than his brother (Kunta's first owner) but that doesn't mean much in...

The Fiddler

The fiddler's Kunta's first real friend in America. Although this outgoing, life-of-the-party...

Massa Tom Lea

Massa Tom Lea's a difficult character to pin down. It's not that he exists in a moral gray area a...

Uncle Mingo

Uncle Mingo does a lot more for Chicken George than just teach him how to gamecock—he...

Miss Malizy, Sister Sarah, and Uncle Pompey

Miss Malizy, Sister Sarah, and Uncle Pompey are the only people working on Tom Lea's farm when...

Matilda

Although Matilda marries into the Kinte family, she becomes as important to its foundation as...

Irene

Irene is Tom's wife: the daughter of a runaway slave mother and Native American father. She's yet...

Massa and Missis Murray

Massa and Missis Murray are the family's final owners. They're city folk who only own their...

Ol' George

Ol' George is pretty much the only white guy who befriends the family. And how does he do it?...

Will and Cynthia Palmer

Not to be confused with Laura Palmer. *Shudder. (All you Twin Peaks fans know what we're talking...

Simon and Bertha Haley

Simon and Bertha Haley are the parents of Alex, our narrator. Bertha lives a pretty cushy...

Cousin Georgia

Cousin Georgia is the only member of the older generation still alive when Alex Haley gets to...

Alex Haley

In a Shyamalan -worthy twist, Roots reveals in its final chapters that the narrator has been Alex...