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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Mildred D. Taylor

Chapters 5-6

Chapter 4

Chapters 7-8

Summary

T. J. and Stacey are soon buddies again. Big Ma takes T. J., Stacey, and Cassie to the market in the town of Strawberry one day. While Big Ma is visiting the office of Mr. Jamison, trouble-making T. J. convinces the other children to go ahead and do some shopping. In a general store, the clerk waits on white customers and ignores them. Cassie assumes the man has forgotten about them, and so she tugs at his sleeve and reminds him. He yells at her and tells her to get out. Crushed, she walks out onto the street and stumbles into Lillian Jean, Jeremy's sister. She and her father push Cassie out in the street, trying to force her to apologize. Cassie is furious when Big Ma makes her apologize.

The children are silent on the way home. When they arrive, they are surprised to see a car that looks like Harlan Granger's sitting in the barn. Running inside, they find that it belongs to Uncle Hammer who has come for his winter visit. When Hammer hears about the abuse Cassie received, he runs off with a gun to find Lillian Jean's father. L. T. goes with him and manages to talk him out of doing anything foolish.

The next day, Uncle Hammer drives the family to church. He has brought a new coat for Stacey, who is very proud, although T. J. teases him, saying the oversized coat makes him look like the preacher. After church, they all go for a drive. When they near a bridge, a buggy that is crossing backs up to let them by, thinking the car is Harlan Granger's. As the family passes, they see it is the Wallace family that has let them by--they see shocked looks on the faces of the Wallace's.

Commentary

Increasingly, the problem faced by the Logan family is racism. Different characters have different reactions to racism. Uncle Hammer flies into a rage, and gets into his car to go beat up or shoot the man who knocked Cassie into the street. He also threatens to burn down the Wallace store, referring to the fact that he fought in World War I with the Berrys, the men that were burned by the Wallaces. For Hammer, a sense of the past, of the sacrifices he has made for his country, does not allow toleration of racism.

Big Ma has a more complicated way of dealing with racism. In Strawberry, she makes Cassie apologize to Lillian Jean. Cassie blames Big Ma for the incident, thinking that her Papa would have stood up to Lillian Jean's father. However, Big Ma is an old woman, and she had little choice, as Mama hints when trying to explain the situation to Cassie. Also, Big Ma is very defiant in some ways. Her entire life, for example, has been a struggle to keep the Logan land away from Harlan Granger.

Stacey and Cassie are learning about racism. Cassie does not fully understand the situation in Spokane, Mississippi--she does not understand why Blacks have to back down. Stacey, on the other hand, understands that this is necessary in the short-term in order to survive.

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