Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
|Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry|
Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry
|Author||Mildred D. Taylor|
|Cover artist||Jerry Pinkney|
|Publisher||Dial Press (Now Penguin Group)|
|Media type||Print (Hardback & Paperback)|
|Preceded by||Song of the Trees|
|Followed by||Let the Circle Be Unbroken|
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a 1976 novel by Mildred D. Taylor. The novel won the 1977 Newbery Medal. Its sequel, Let the Circle Be Unbroken, was released in 1981. It also has a prequel, The Land, which tells the story of the Logan grandfather who purchased the land that is central to these novels.
This popular novel explores life in southern America, "The South", after the American Civil War - when racism was still common-place and many were persecuted for the colour of their skin. The 'Berry Burnings' mentioned in chapter 1 and Mr Tatum who was tarred and feathered in chapter 4 are prime examples of lynch mobs/nightmen taking the law in to their own hands, at the expense of the black population.
Throughout this novel the reader learns about the importance of land and the effects of racism, at the same time as Cassie Logan (the narrator) learns 'the way things are'. It is key to this story that the narrator is a child as it adds emphasis upon what it was like to grow up in "The South", and it also helps the reader to understand (as they too may not have very much understanding of the true impact of racism at this time).
- 1 Plot
- 2 Characters
- 2.1 Logan family
- 2.2 Secondary characters
- 3 Film adaption
- 4 References
Cassie and her brothers, Stacey, Christopher-John, and Little Man (Clayton Chester) walk to school. Cassie talks about the land on which the Logan family lives. It belonged to Harlan Granger, but he sold a thousand acres (4 km²) of it to cover his taxes during Reconstruction. Their grandfather bought two hundred acres (0.8 km²) in 1887, then another two hundred acres (0.8 km²) in 1918. After several minutes of walking, T.J. Avery and his brother Claude join them. The Avery family sharecrops on the Granger Plantation. Later, the Jefferson Davis (white children's) school bus drives by. The kids get out of its way in time except Little Man, whose clothes become coated with dust kicked up by the bus. He was lagging behind so that he didn't get his clothes dirty. At school, Cassie and Little Man go to their classroom, where Cassie's teacher, Miss Crocker, gives them their textbooks, worn-out castoffs from the white school with a chart containing the word "nigra" printed inside. Crocker meets with their mother, who calmly glues a piece of paper over the chart containing the word; she does so to all the books. She then hands them back to a dumbstruck Crocker. On Saturday, their father, David Logan, comes home from his railroad job in Louisiana and brings with him Mr. L.T. Morrison to assist in planting, farming, protection, and other jobs. He leaves the next day after church to catch a train.
The next week, Stacey and T.J. take a test and T.J. creates cheat sheets that he gives to Stacey when he sees their teacher coming. She finds the notes, accuses Stacey of cheating on the test and whips him. After school T.J. runs to the Wallace Store, which the Logans forbid their children from visiting. Stacey follows T.J. while the others follow him. Mr. Morrison finds them fighting and separates them. Instead of telling their mother, Morrison leaves Stacey to decide whether or not to do so himself. Stacey tells her, and she takes the children to visit the Berrys. Mr. Berry is badly burned and gruesomely disfigured; Mama explains that the Wallaces are responsible.
The next day, Mrs. Logan recruits people to boycott the Wallace Store because they are the cause of most of the trouble between the blacks and the whites, and are alleged to be members of the "night men". Big Ma, Cassie's grandmother, takes Stacey, Cassie and T.J. to Strawberry, a nearby town, and sells her goods at the market there. After lunch, they visit the office of Mr. Jamison, who is their white lawyer and the son of the man who sold them Harlan Granger's land. He is one of the few white men in the town who treats black people equally. T.J. takes Cassie and Stacey to the Barnett Mercantile to purchase items his family needs. T.J. admires a pearl-handled revolver on display, and says he would "sell his life to own that gun". Mr. Barnett begins serving T.J., but a white customer comes in and Mr. Barnett interrupts his business with T.J. to serve her. As he begins attending to T.J. again, a white girl comes in and Mr. Barnett again stops serving T.J. Cassie reminds Mr. Barnett that they have been waiting for an hour. He tells her to continue waiting. Cassie begins yelling at Mr. Barnett. Stacey tells her to be quiet, but Mr. Barnett kicks them out of the store.
Cassie accidentally bumps into Lillian Jean Simms on the sidewalk. Lillian Jean orders her to apologize, then to get down on the road. Cassie tries running, but Lillian Jean's father twists her arm and throws her onto the road, ordering her to apologize. Big Ma tells her to apologize, and they leave. When they get home, they find their uncle Hammer Logan from Chicago is visiting with a shiny silver Packard. Cassie tells him what happened and Hammer speeds away to take revenge. Mama tells Stacey to get Mr. Morrison to stop Hammer. She is worried that Hammer will get hung, but she finds him alive and well. Before going to church, Hammer gives Stacey an early Christmas present, a wool coat whose sleeves were too long. At church T.J. persuades Stacey to give him the wool coat because its overlong sleeves make it look "like a preacher's coat". Papa comes home for Christmas and is staying until spring. On Christmas night, Jeremy visits the Logans and gives them nuts and a handmade flute for Stacey. Papa warns Stacey to be careful about being friends with Jeremy, saying that eventually he will change, because the Simms are racist, and Jeremy might become prejudiced. The next day, Papa calls the children into the barn and whips them for visiting the Wallace store. Time passes and Papa starts leading the boycott against the store. Mr. Jamison visits and Big Ma signs papers giving the land to Papa and Hammer. He also warns them to be careful, because they could lose their land if they continue their boycott. Mr. Granger asks for the land, but Papa refuses. Hammer returns to Chicago, and Papa continues the boycott.
Cassie makes peace with Lillian Jean, pretending to be her friend by carrying her books. As Lillian Jean begins trusting Cassie more, she tells her all her secrets, which Cassie uses to attack Lillian Jean. Cassie blackmails Lillian Jean into apologizing for what happened in Strawberry. T.J. tells Mr. Wallace about Mrs. Logan and how she does not teach from the county-issued textbook because she believes it contains biased information, and even tells about the boycott. Mr. Granger, a member of the school board, fires Mrs. Logan. Stacey blames T.J., although he denies it was his fault. After his friends shun him, T.J. begins associating with Melvin and R.W. Simms, brothers of the Logans' friend Jeremy. Papa, Mr. Morrison and Stacey go to Vicksburg, and on their way back, they find one of the wagon wheels was tampered with. As Papa is fixing it they are ambushed by the Wallace brothers.
The Logan family is one of the more privileged and rich black families in the town; they own land themselves, therefore they are not forced into poverty like the many other families in the town.
The narrator and protagonist. Cassie is 9 years old. She has a fiery temper, and is naive concerning the facts of racism.
Cassie's older brother Stacey's friendship with TJ becomes central to the plot as the story progresses. Stacey is the oldest Logan child.
A plump and cheerful 7 year-old, Christopher-John is the third-oldest of the Logan children. He is timid and easy going.
Clayton Chester ("Little Man")
A meticulously neat 6 year-old first-grader and wise for his age, Little Man is the youngest of the Logan children. His dislike and distrust of TJ is noted throughout the novel.
Papa (David Paul Logan)
The patriarch of the Logan clan, he values his independence highly, leaving to work on the railroad so as not to lose ownership of Logan land.
Mama (Mary Logan)
The mother of Stacey, Christopher John, Cassie, and Little Man, Mama is a proud woman, who refuses to buckle to the pressure from the all-white school board, and is fired from her teaching job as a result.
Big Ma (Caroline Logan)
Big Ma is Papa and Uncle Hammer's mother. The grandma of Cassie, Stacey, Little Man, and Christopher John, she angers Cassie when she seems to side with the Mr. Simms when he treats Cassie with disrespect.
Papa's brother, Uncle Hammer is much more hot-tempered than Papa. He comes to town from Chicago and helps David with his money issues.
A close friend of Stacey's, TJ becomes central to the plot of the story when he is shunned by his fellow blacks, and begins to spend time with the racist Simms brothers.
Jeremy is a thirteen-year-old white boy, whose family is very racist. Jeremy doesn't like or share his family's beliefs, and tries to be friends with Stacey and the other Logan children. Because of this, he is ridiculed by his white peers and family. He often has cuts and welts from his father's and sister's (Lillian Jean) beatings for associating with black children. For Christmas, Jeremy tries to be nice to Stacey and gives him a flute, and gives Mama a bag of nuts.
Lillian Jean Simms
Lillian (or "Miz" Lillian Jean) is the elder sister of Jeremy Simms. She hurts him frequently for his friendship with the Logan children. Cassie is humiliated by her in Strawberry, but later takes revenge by pretending to be her friend for several weeks, then secretly forcing her to apologize, but doesn't leave any visible signs of fighting.
Melvin and R.W. Simms
The older brothers of Jeremy and Lillian Jean. Melvin and R.W. pretend to be friends with T.J., but have ulterior motives for doing so. They just keep him around so that they can laugh at him behind his back.
Mr. Wade Jamison
Mr. Jamison is a local lawyer who is also the Logan family's only other white friend. He places first his reputation, and in the end, his life, on the line to assist the black families in their struggle against racism. He protects T.J from white people (night men) who try to hurt him.
Harlan Granger is the wealthiest landowner in the county, and the owner of the land surrounding the Logan farm. Originally, the Logan's land was part of the Granger plantation, and Harlan Granger attempts in various ways to regain ownership of it.
Mr. Jim Lee Barnett
Mr. Barnett owns the Barnett Mercantile in Strawberry. Early in the book, he throws Cassie out of the store when she protests his favoritism towards white customers. Later, he is robbed and assaulted by the Simms brothers, R.W. and Melvin, which results in his death. T.J., after being tricked by the Simms brothers into helping with the robbery, is blamed for this.
The Wallace Brothers
The Wallace Brothers (Kaleb, Dewberry, and Thurston) are three white brothers who are local businessmen who own stores. They are also antagonists of the Logans. Also the Wallaces are the men who burned the Berry's.
- School Library Journal
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