Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Spring comes; eventually school lets out for the cotton season. Rumor has it that T.J. is spending more and more time with Melvin and R. W., the older Simms brothers, and that they are just using him. Also, the Wallace brothers are talking about not letting anyone steal their business.
One night in early summer, some nearby farmers come by and tell Papa not to buy anything for them on his next run to Vickburg. Granger and other plantation owners are threatening to decrease pay and even kick the tenants off their land and put the men on a chain gang if they do not begin shopping at the Wallace store again. All but seven families stop ordering goods from Vicksburg. Mama feels this is not enough to hurt the Wallaces, but is enough to "rile" them, but Papa will not give up. On the next trip to Vicksburg, however, he, L. T., and Stacey are ambushed. While Papa is repairing a sabotaged wagon wheel, a truck pulls up and fires--a bullet grazes his head. Then the horse rears up in fright and pulls the wagon wheel over Papa's leg, because Stacey cannot hold the horse back. L. T. makes short work of the men, who turn out to be the Wallaces, breaking Dewberry Wallace's back.
Because Papa's leg is broken, the Logan family's finances are in bad shape. Stacey feels responsible for his leg. One day, while the children and L. T. are riding in the wagon, they run into Kaleb Wallace, who stops his truck in the middle of the road and threatens L. T. He gets out and moves the truck out of street with his bare hands.
All of the Logans are worried that something more will happen. One day Jeremy is telling the Logan children about how he has a tree house, but Stacey won't let them go look at it. Eventually, Papa receives a notice that the bank wants the loan paid in full, and he has to call Uncle Hammer to get the money. During the annual revival, Hammer walks up, having sold his car in order to get the money. He is glad to have helped. He wants to stay, but Papa warns him that if he stays it will only cause trouble. On the last day of the revival, T. J. and the Simms brothers approach. T. J. tries to impress the children with his fine new clothes and white friends, but the children leave in disgust. T. J. seems hurt, and stands still for a while, then finally follows Melvin and R. W.
It is important to distinguish between the various threats that endanger the Logan family. First, the Wallaces are prepared to use violence. Although Harlan Granger is obviously allied with the Wallaces, he is not responsible for the violence--he is aloof from crime. Instead, he uses his power in the county to get the bank to demand immediate payment of the loan. Thus, the Logans are put in financial danger.
Finally, T. J. and his white friends, Melvin and R. W. Simms, represent an indirect threat. They are youths running wild, and because T. J. was once Stacey's friend, he could easily come to Stacey for help. After all, as Jeremy reports, Melvin and R. W. pretend to be T. J.'s friend, but they laugh about him behind his back. They are only pretending to be his friend, and could turn on him at any point.
Readers' Notes allow users to add their own analysis and insights to our SparkNotes—and to discuss those ideas with one another. Have a novel take or think we left something out? Add a Readers' Note!