Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry Essay Examples

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 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Novel Summary
  • Chapters 1-3
  • Chapters 4-6
  • Chapters 7-9
  • Chapters 10-12
  • Character Profiles
  • Metaphor Analysis
  • Theme Analysis
  • Top Ten Quotes
  • Biography: Mildred D. Taylor
  • Essay Q&A

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Home › Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: Essay Q&A
  • Introduction
  • Summary
    • Chapters 1-3
    • Chapters 4-6
    • Chapters 7-9
    • Chapters 10-12
  • Characters
  • Metaphor
  • Theme
  • Top Ten Quotes
  • Biography

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry: Essay Q&A

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1. Compare and contrast the Logan children’s personalities and describe the similarities and differences of Cassie and Stacey’s coming of age
While Roll of Thunder is primarily the coming-of-age story of Cassie Logan, she and her brothers all develop a more mature understanding of race relations in the South during the year described.  From the beginning of the novel, Cassie and Little Man are presented as the Logan children most open about their feelings.  In contrast, Stacey is from the outset portrayed as more restrained, formulating plans to carry out rather than reacting in the heat of the moment.  From their first day of school through the spring revival, the Logan children learn tough lessons about the world around them, each expressing their new-found knowledge in different ways.
Little Man is outraged upon seeing the word “nigra” printed in his first school book, and is most frequently depicted trying to keep clean.  As the youngest sibling, he is presented as innocent and worthy of protection from the harsh realities that surround him, a job his older siblings welcome.  Christopher-John is a quieter character, who must be encouraged to follow along on the children’s nighttime explorations.  He cheerfully goes along, but it is Cassie and Stacey who lead their peers in rebellion.
Cassie is still learning to control her temper, which appears frequently, including when she resists apologizing to “Miss” Lillian Jean Simms.  She wreaks her revenge by feigning friendship and earning the white girl’s trust solely to abuse it and regain a sense of her own power.  Papa has explained Cassie must choose her battles and that just as he has decided not to pursue Charlie Simms in this particular instance, she, too, must learn when to let things go. Stacey shares his sister’s intense frustrations, but also shows the wisdom of restraint.  He masterminds the children’s revenge on the school bus that dirties them by insisting on patience and then returning to the scene to dig the ditch that destroys the offending vehicle.  Over the course of the novel,  he shows even greater self-discipline, a widening chasm from his sister who is eager to see justice swiftly done. Whether due to her age or gender, or both, Cassie has not accompanied her father on the railroad as Stacey has, and certain elements of his greater worldliness are directly attributable to this difference in exposure. 2. What is the importance of the novel’s title?
“Roll of thunder, hear my cry,” is a line from a spiritual sung by slaves, which appears in a song hummed by Mr. Morrison at the beginning of chapter 11.  Its lines include reference to a white man coming whip in hand “but I ain’t gonna let him turn me ‘round,” a clear allusion to the resistance of the Logan family to the racial oppression still evident in the 1930s. Mama, Papa and Big Ma have all imparted their opinions about the legacy of slavery to the Logan children, and shared their sense of injustice at the way things are.  They encourage the next generation not to accept the status quo, but to carefully identify their means of resistance to an unjust world order.  Rather than depending on the heavens to save them from the anger and fear exhibited by their white neighbors, the Logans organize a boycott of the Wallace store and encourage their black friends to also shop in Vicksburg.  But their efforts are met with violence, and the storm metaphor surfaces multiple times in the novel to illustrate the similarities between race relations and weather patterns.            Though it is somewhat unpredictable which incident will set off a storm of hate, there is no doubt that something big is brewing throughout the novel, until the crescendo of the fire lit by Papa in an attempt to save his land and family.  While it a major accomplishment that, for the first time, blacks and whites are linked in their efforts to fight the blaze, it is not enough that they are united at last against a common enemy threatening life and property.  To quell the leaping flames it is a natural rain that is needed.  The distant roar of thunder that opens and closes the penultimate chapter lends a sense of foreboding to the storm that has long been brewing.  Mama and Big Ma fight the blaze with buckets of water, but it takes a torrential downpour of larger-than-life proportions to spare three-quarters of the Logans’ cotton and to reinforce the fact that all human beings in the story depend on nature. 3. How is friendship explored in this novel?
Besides being blood relatives, the members of the Logan family are bound by a deep respect for one another and a shared value and love for the land.  Few of their neighbors grasp this tie, or exhibit it in their own families.  The Averys are portrayed as poor and ignorant sharecroppers, and the Simmses as similarly challenged to demonstrate by example to their children how to treat their fellow human beings. Their peers look up to the Logans and seek their acceptance, but none earn their full respect and friendship. T.J. wants nothing more than to be listened to and respected, and will do or say anything to be the center of attention.  His lack of respect for the moral order disgusts Cassie and her brothers, who shun him.  Stacey understands and sympathizes with T.J. but denies him the prize of his friendship.
Jeremy Simms also desperately craves Stacey’s approval, and from the start attempts to distinguish himself from his family and white peers, extending himself time and again.  Although he walks as far as he can along the way to school with the Logans, his gestures are not encouraged or welcomed, through no fault of his own, but rather due to the larger racial forces in operation in full force in the still segregated South.  The clear message is that friendship is predicated on racial equality, and until that is developed, true friendship between blacks and whites is as much a dream as Jeremy’s fantasy that he can see the Logan farm from his tree house.
Perhaps the most compelling example of friendship in the novel is that between David Logan and Mr. Morrison, the man he brings home from the railroad to protect his family.  Mr. Morrison appreciates the generosity of food, shelter and company, and repays the Logans by shielding their children from further attack, keeping watch in the night with a shotgun by his side.  He is honest in explaining how he lost his job, for fighting with white men, and is rewarded for this quality which the Logans greatly value.
Although friendship is an important theme throughout Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, it is mostly the bonds of family that remain unquestioned and intact by the novel’s end.  Family loyalty, to each other and to their shared land, is prized above all else.
4.  What is the symbolic value of the land in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?
As Big Ma repeats frequently in this novel, the Logans cherish their land and will protect it at any price.  Her refrain is echoed by her sons, David and Hammer, the only living men in the family, and David’s wife Mary who shares in working and appreciating it.  As a schoolteacher, Mary knows well that her husband’s family struggled to pay for the 400 acres on which they reside, not only tilling the soil and cultivating the cotton crop yearly, but also warding off those who wish to reclaim it for white ownership.  Slavery is a fresh wound in the family’s collective memory, the horrors of which are most often recounted by Big Ma, whose forebears were not born free.
Because they own their own land, the Logans have an important place in the black community.  While their neighbors share-crop on white-owned land and must borrow from the Grangers to buy their supplies, the Logans are self-sufficient and able to provide for themselves, even demonstrating their independence by boycotting the racist Wallace store in favor of shopping twenty-two miles away in Vicksburg.
           Unlike the Logans, who respect the land for both the gifts it gives in sustaining them and for its symbolic value in making them more equal to the white landowners, Harlan Granger wants to buy back their 400 acres to demonstrate the superiority of the white race.  He is living in the past and wishes to return to the era of slaves and masters, which he believes the “right” order of things.  Of the white adults, only Mr. Jamison questions this belief, and instead upholds the legal right of the Logans to their land.
Land is portrayed as the central concern of the elder Logans, who have learned through the generations before them that the independence it enables is key to success in this country.  Besides the economic benefits of working it instead of another’s acres, the Logan land is responsible for the closeness of the family.  They share important memories in its trees and fields and depend upon it to create the same respect in the next generation of Logans.
5. How is a sense of hope conveyed throughout the novel?
Despite the ugliness of racism and violence permeating the novel, its main characters share a sense of hope that they will yet emerge triumphant.  While the forces of hate run deep and the white families still teach their children anger and fear of difference, the Logans encourage Cassie and her three brothers to develop a sense of respect for themselves before they expect others to treat them with respect.  Big Ma, as the oldest character in the novel, has seen many decades of similar mistreatment of her friends and neighbors, yet is the one to most often tell the youngest character, Little Man, that the sun will shine again. The most appealing characters in this book are youthful and optimistic, with even Cassie’s parents resorting to creative means to see justice done in the community.  They persuade their neighbors to band together and shop in Vicksburg rather than contribute to the Wallaces’ and Grangers’ meager profit at their own expense.  Clearly there are problems enveloping them all much bigger than anyone can solve, but David and Mary Logan insist on the importance of doing their part and trying to create another way.
By being told in the first-person by a nine-year-old losing her sense of naivete and opening her eyes to the racial realities around her, this novel is by nature hopeful.  As Cassie grows and changes, thinking before she speaks or acts and beginning to help her younger brothers do the same, her observations deepen and she becomes a stronger agent of change in her community.  Instead of the child she was in the opening chapter, joining her brother in rejecting the dirty school books out of a sense of righteous indignation, by the novel’s close she has developed into a more worldly young adult, still somewhat in her older brother’s shadow but peering out of the woods in which she’d been hiding with a far more adult pair of eyes than she possessed at the start of the school year.  Although most of this learning took place outside the schoolhouse, Cassie nevertheless emerges an educated and independent person, likely to follow in her parents’ footsteps in seeking all means possible to do what she must in paving the way towards racial equality for future generations.

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  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
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 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Study Guide (Choose to Continue)

  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Novel Summary
  • Chapters 1-3
  • Chapters 4-6
  • Chapters 7-9
  • Chapters 10-12
  • Character Profiles
  • Metaphor Analysis
  • Theme Analysis
  • Top Ten Quotes
  • Biography: Mildred D. Taylor
  • Essay Q&A

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 Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Study Guide

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  • Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Novel Summary
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  • Chapters 4-6
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  • Metaphor Analysis
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      'Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry' Essay.

      The novel "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry" by Mildred D Taylor is a novel set in the 1930s about a little girl Cassie Logan whom is growing up in a poor but better off than most African-American families in the Southern States of the U.S.A. She knows about racism and how despicable others can be towards people of colour just because their skin is different and since the abolishment of slavery. Despite this she is still ignorant as to why this happens and why they harbour this massive hatred. For this essay I am explaining why the social setting is significantly important in this story, the aspects that help make it and what intentions the author had for the audience to learn by reading it.

      First of all is the aspect of resistance against what has become socially acceptable but isn't ethically correct, general racism and inequality. Cassie learns through her mistakes that what isn't right has become law to the people but she still has a strong sense of justice and integrity despite being young and fairly ignorant as to why she might not be allowed to do certain things. "There are ... things ... that if I'd let be, they'd eat away at me and destroy me in the end...there are things you can't back down on, things you gotta take a stand on. But it's up to you to decide what them things are. You have to demand respect in this world, ain't nobody just gonna hand it to you. How you carry yourself, what you stand for-that's how you gain respect. But, little one, ain't nobody's respect worth more than your own." Here, Papa explains to Cassie that it's her decision to get back at Lillian Jean for what she did; ridiculing her at the sidewalk in Strawberry. He tells Cassie that what does go on is not actually okay but retaliating in any way would have to be inconspicuous and subtle even so in order not to rouse up trouble in the community. Essentially he's saying that she can get her revenge, as long as Lillian Jean's father and he don't get involved. In the end the show of this aspect in the book plays a very important role in progression of events by changing the usual. For example, if Papa hadn't told this to Cassie she would probably still think wholly and truly that the defiance in a fight for rights isn't acceptable and her character wouldn't have developed as well. This relates to real life and society because our personalities are based on all of our experiences. The smallest of events can result in a huge change in one's personality. Without people telling us that defiance is okay, we'd have a lot less human rights and communities fighting for equality because we would all still be restricted in barbed wire fences of misperception and drowning in the race and gender roles that society spoon feeds us into believing right from the moment we are born. With every word of encouragement into breaking the boundaries, we take another breath of fresh, clean, truthful air.

      Secondly is the aspect of family loyalty in an environment filled with danger and risk-taking. Cassie and her siblings stick out for each other, Papa works far away to earn money to pay off the mortgage, Uncle Hammer actually pays it off after selling his sleek car and Big Ma constantly helps out everyone in many ways. "What good's a car? It can't grow cotton. You can't build a home on it. And you can't raise four fine babies in it." Uncle Hammer says this, reinforcing the family bond, trust and strengthening their will to change the woefully way things are. He sells his car; a sign of wealth, success and a major status symbol for him which proves any black person can own things and have as much money as a white person. He uses it to pay off the mortgage which saves The Logan's property being bought back by the despicable, rich Mr Granger whom kept edging them on for the money with countless threats. Although Uncle Hammer didn't see his kin everyday it puts into perspective the permanence of loyalty towards one's family. The most important thing about the family loyalty is that it's unconditional like love for a family member or a jar of preserved pickles that hasn't been opened in twenty-five years. This novel displays several acts of the aspect which prove each in their own manner in how it can take place and change a significantly bad situation for the better.

      Lastly the third aspect is pride for what you believe in and your own self. Cassie learns to be proud of whom she is and her skin colour no matter what people say to her and how they try to beat her down. "So now, even though seventy years have passed since slavery, most white people still think of us as they did back then-that we're not as good as they are-and people like Mr. Simms hold on to that belief harder than some other folks because they have little else to hold on to. For him to believe that he is better than we are makes him think that he's important simply because he's white." Ma explains to Cassie why Mr Simms did what he did and why he acts high and mighty over everyone else, even though he's the same as everyone except that he has a terrible manifestation of pride for being white and bashing people of colour because it puts him in power and control. Cassie isn't told directly but Ma implies that she should be proud of herself and have full respect and not let others hurt her and not let her pride overtake who she is on the inside. Pride is a fickle thing. You can be too proud of yourself and yet you can also not be proud enough. Balance is vital to the correct pride, or you'll end up being too cowardly or too vain.

      Conclusively this book shows the point of view from a young girl yet to learn all there is to perception and trust in the period of time she lives in. There is much to learn from the book as a whole through the social setting aspects which link up to everyday life from the 1930s. Mildred D Taylor teaches and shows the audience that for the good ending you have to make sacrifices sometimes, and they'll be hard but not doing it is risking more considering your surroundings and limited options. Not everyone is going to be kind, not everyone is going to be mean. But there are going to be these people everywhere. It's about a struggling survival for your rights and the way things happened for us to develop to this current time and age. Everyone is worth something and the fact that we all have human rights that should, but are not always, obeyed, shows that change happens for a reason.

      Bridget O'Connell.