69 pages 2 hours read

Alex Haley

Roots: The Saga of an American Family

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1976

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Character Analysis

Kunta Kinte

Content Warning: This section 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.

Kunta Kinte is the initial protagonist of the novel. He is the son of Omoro and Binta, growing up in the village of Juffure in The Gambia, West Africa. The novel follows Kinta through his childhood into adolescence, at which point he is kidnapped and shipped to America as an enslaved person. Kunta’s character develops as he endures the hardships of slavery, making him a dynamic character. His perspectives on what it means to be a Black man change as he is forced to adapt to the Black American way of living, but he retains much of his Mandinka culture as he ages. Other characters commonly refer to Kunta as “The African” because he maintains his Muslim traditions and African mannerisms. Kunta displays traits of calm thoughtfulness and stubbornness as he tries to bring more of his Black American friends and family members into his African cultural heritage. Ultimately, it is because Kunta maintains his culture that his stories and life are transferred from generation to generation, culminating in the writing of the novel.