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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Mildred D. Taylor

Study Questions


Review Quiz

In what ways do the tactics of the Logan family resemble those of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s?

The Logan family employs a boycott against the Wallace store, and they are no stranger to Civil Disobedience. Although the word "boycott" is never used in the novel, the campaign to rob the Wallace store of business is certainly a boycott. Because the Wallace brothers killed a black man but went unpunished by the law, the Logan family, with the help of Mr. Jamison organize a boycott. This is as close as they can hope to come to bringing justice to the Wallace family. The phrase "Civil Disobedience" is also never used, but the many times the Logan family bends the rules in order to maintain their dignity, freedom, and welfare are prime examples of breaking the law for a higher good. Thus, the children, break the axle of the school bus that plagues them, and Papa stages a brushfire. Of course, their actions do not have the broad scope, intent, or meaning of those of the nationwide Civil Rights movement, but their inclusion in the novel do indicate Mildred Taylor's influences.

How does Mildred Taylor make the conclusion more than a "black and white" issue?

The conclusion centers around a lynching. Although lynchings are of course illegal, and in a novel about defiance in the face of racism, lynchings are certainly a great evil which must be fought, this lynching is complex. After all, much of the novel encourages the reader to dislike T. J.. Time after time, the reader is led to see the ways in which T. J. is insincere. Whether or not T. J. deserves to die and whether or not he was used by Melvin and R. W. Simms, one feels that he has gotten himself into this trouble. Of course, the last few chapters begin to show hoe T. J. is a pathetic character, a victim of the older white boys. Still, the fact that he is the primary target of the lynching makes the ending much more complex than if the mob had come directly after Papa.

Explain the extent of and motivation behind Harlan Granger's harassment of the Logan family.

Granger is eager to stop the boycott of the Wallace store for obvious reasons. He receives a great deal of money from the Wallace store, and furthermore he believes in white superiority. By boycotting the Wallace store, the Logan's are indirectly blaming the murder of Mr. Berry on the Wallace brothers, and Granger cannot stand to see this sort of nerve in the black community. Therefore, he takes measures to break up the boycott. He also wants to force the Logan's off their land, in order to fulfill his vision of a pre- Civil War Granger plantation. In order to put pressure on the Logan family, he fires Mama, and forces Papa to find the money to pay back his loan. It is unclear how much involvement Granger has in the violent attacks of the Wallace brothers, but it is unlikely that he discourages them.

How does Cassie grow over the course of the novel?

What is the role of education in the Logan family? Is it worshipped? Compare the importance of education with the importance of religion or of material wealth.

Most of the violence of the novel involves men. In what ways are Mama and Big Ma also heroes?

What does Mr. Jamison due to help the Logan's and the black community? Is he a realistic character? Why or why not?

What role does family tradition play in the novel?

Does the novel stereotype either black or white behavior?

Examine the character of T. J.. In what ways does he represent problems in contemporary communities? Think of peer pressure, poverty, weapons, and drinking. Was his decline inevitable? Besides his own, whose fault were his problems?

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