Study Guide

Matilda in Roots: The Saga of an American Family

By Alex Haley


Although Matilda marries into the Kinte family, she becomes as important to its foundation as anyone. After all, with a hubby like Chicken George, someone's got to take things seriously around here.

Sister Act

Matilda's defined by her devoutly religious nature. In fact, this is probably what drew Chicken George to her in the first place—she was the only girl he'd visit who wouldn't get down with him. That's some classic playing hard to get. Still, this spiritual nature is very much in line with the Kinte legacy, which traces its ancestry back to highly regard holy men in Africa.

Unfortunately, the early years of their marriage aren't the best. Chicken George spends most of his time with the gamecocks, and Matilda has many "doubts and disappointments" that he's unfaithful to her (95.58). Which, to be fair, is 100% correct.

Luckily for her, Matilda has George's mother Kizzy there to help her through these trying times, and the two women become inseparably close.

Mom of the Year

Thankfully, Matilda's unending love brings Chicken George back from the brink and helps him become the family man she always knew he could be. In fact, he goes well above and beyond the call of duty, working his butt off to free the family, even if he does make a mistake or two along the way.

They spend much of their marriage apart, but when George finally arrives to bring the fam to the promised land of Henning, Tennessee, Matilda loves him more than she ever has.

This bond never wavers from that point forward, though you might not be able to tell at first glance. And Chicken George's never the same after his wife's death: it seems that "his own warmth died with her" and "no one could remember him ever smiling again or saying a civil word to anyone" after that day (115.24).

He knows that he owes his life to this strong, fearless woman and, frankly, so do all of their children, and their children's children, and their children's children's children, and their…

You get the point. She's their rock. (Or their The Rock. Makes sense to us either way.)