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ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY MILDRED D. TAYLOR GENRE: FICTION SEQUELS: LET THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN (1981) ROAD TO MEMPHIS (1992) CHRISTOPHER J.
THE AUTHOR Mildred D. Taylor . . . pens a compelling story without malice or resentment of embarrassment, but displays a sense of humility, unwavering strength and respect for humankind.
Set in 1933 Mississippi--during the Great Depression, the story covers twelve turbulent months in the life of the Logans, a black land-owning family. During this time, most blacks were sharecroppers, farmers who did not own the land they worked but in exchange for the use of the land, the farmers had to give a certain percentage of their harvest to the owner. To keep their land, the Logans had to work really hard and at the same time, endure many racial injustices. SUMMARY
CASSIE LOGAN The narrator is Cassie Logan, an independent-minded, nine-year-old girl who questions the social situation that requires her to be subservient to the local white families -- even to the point of accepting physical assault by Charlie Simms, for whose daughter Cassie refused to give way on the sidewalk. Vividly, yet naively told from the point of view of Cassie Logan, the second-oldest Logan child, the story holds your attention page after page. She has a fiery temper that enables her to project anger, fear, joy, and pride, as she describes interactions between blacks and whites and struggles with the constant fear of loss of life, land and family. I love this book because her storytelling helped me see the things she saw, heard and felt. There's a lot more going on than just a trial, murder, lynch mobs, and crashing schools buses and Cassie tells you all about it. Clearly my favorite character.
THE FAMILY Little Man (Clayton Chester Logan) - A meticulously neat first-grader, Little Man is the youngest of the Logan children. Stacey Logan - Age thirteen, Stacey is the oldest son of the Logan children. He is teeters between child and adulthood. Christopher-John - A cheerful but timid seven-year-old, Christopher-John is the second youngest of the Logan children. Papa (David Logan) - Cassie's father. He values his independence highly, leaving to work on the railroad in order not to lose ownership of Logan land. Mama (Mary Logan) - Cassie's mother, a schoolteacher. Uncle Hammer - Papa's brother, Hammer lives in Chicago. He has a short temper. Big Ma (Caroline Logan) - Papa's mother. A woman of sixty, she runs the Logan farm.
THE FRIENDS L. T. Morrison - A big, burly man with streaks of white hair who comes to work on the Logan farm. Mr. Jamison - A local white lawyer whose forefathers bought land from Harlan Granger during the reconstruction, and sold some of it to the Logan family. Mr. Jamison is very sympathetic to the plight of the black community. Jeremy Simms - A white boy who is often beaten for walking to school with and associating with the Logan children.
T. J. Avery - A trouble-making friend of Stacey's. The Averies are sharecroppers on Granger land. T. J. has a younger brother named Claude. Lillian Jean Simms - A prissy seventh grader. Melvin and R. W. Simms - The older Simms brothers make trouble. They pretend to befriend T. J., but make fun of him behind his back. The Wallace Family (Kaleb, Dewberry, etc.) - The Wallace family runs a general store on Harlan Granger's land. They are violent, brutal people. Harlan Granger - A rich plantation owner who is anxious to buy back the Logan's land. THE FOES
MEMORABLE QUOTES "Papa always meant what he said and he swung a mean switch." (pg. 41) "It was as if the bus were a living thing, plaguing and defeating us at every turn. We could not outwit it." (pg.46) Her clear, smooth skin was the color of a pecan shell. (pg.32) Roll of Thunder here my cry, Over the water bye and bye, Ole man coming down the line, Whip in hand to beat me down, But I ain't gonna let him turn me 'round. (pg. 242) " You see that fig tree over yonder, Cassie?" . . . . . . "There's a lesson to be learned from that little tree, Cassie girl, 'cause we're like it. We keep doing what we gotta, and we don't give up. We can't. (bottom of pg. 205 - to top of pg. 206)
FAVORITE SCENE Cassie says "sorry," but Lillian Jean tells her to walk on the street herself if she's "afraid of getting bumped." Then Lillian Jean's father comes and throws Cassie off the sidewalk, ordering Cassie to apologize to Lillian Jean by saying "Sorry Miz Lillian Jean," Cassie refuses and soon a crowd assembles, and Big Ma comes too, makes Cassie apologize and takes her away. Cassie is badly insulted and can't understand why people treated her so unfairly. I like the fact that she spoke out against what she thought was unfair. My favorite scene is when T.J. takes Cassie and Stacey to the Barnett Mercantile store. 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, saying that it's unfair. Stacey, knowing that that's the way things are, takes Cassie back outside, where Cassie bumps into a white girl, who then orders her to apologize and start walking on the street instead of on the sidewalk.
LIKES & DISLIKES Overall the book was a fascinating and informative read. It gave me a view of racism from a child’s perspective. How frustrating it must have been to be experiencing such blatant racism and can do nothing about it. I like the fact that the Logan family was able to keep their land, despite all the nasty things the Grangers were trying to do. I also liked the fact that Cassie stood up to the store owner and Lillian. Best of all of the prank on the school bus. I disliked the burning of the three men and the ignorance of the jurors during the trial. It was so clear that the Avery boys were lying but they only wanted to convict an innocent person because of the color of his skin.
The importance of family
Land as a symbol of independence
Weather as echo of human emotions
Hope in the face of destruction
Passage of time as a cycle
Coming of age through experience and pain
Friendship as risk
Doing what you "gotta do“
Greed as a cause of hatred
Independence and self-respect
RECOMMENDATION & RATING “ The best book I have ever read. I recommend that anyone wanting a better understanding of the affects of racism on family and how it is viewed by children to read this book. Some of the story is scary but it ties in to the harsh realities of the situations the family goes through.” Christopher J My Rating