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story is set in Mississippi during the Great Depression around 1933-1934. It is
an area where former plantation owners and their descendants have been forced
to resort to sharecropping their land in order to continue some semblance of their
pre-Civil War way of life. The Black families who had been freed by the war have
had no where to go and no means of survival off the plantations. Thus they became
the tenant farmers or sharecroppers, planting acres of cotton or other crops.
The landowner took a percentage of the crop as his share, and the tenant farmer
tried to survive on what remained. A major problem with the system was that there
was no standard for what was a fair share of the farmerís work.
type of environment, a Black family who owned their own land was unique and would
have been seen as a threat to the whites. There were also no banking regulations.
If a bank owner wanted to recall a loan and demand that it be paid immediately,
there was nothing to prevent him from doing so.
In Mississippi, not even
the American legal system worked for the blacks. A white person could even go
so far as to kill a Black without fear of prosecution, but a Black person could
be executed for very minor offenses-or even on entirely false charges, which frequently
happened. It is in this environment of fear and subjugation that we find the Logan
LIST OF CHARACTERS
The protagonist. Nine year old
daughter of David and Mary Logan. First person narrator. Faces problems of racism.
She is the second oldest child in her family.
The son of a black sharecropper family who is farming on the Granger land. Obnoxious
know-it-all who commits serious errors in judgment in choosing his friends. Cheats
on tests, makes fun of his friends, tries to get the Logan children to disobey
Cassieís older brother.
Reasonably mature 13 year old. Cassie looks up to him for explanations on things
she doesnít know yet. The oldest child in the Logan family.
A guest who moves into a little shack on the Logan land.
David brings him under the pretense of giving Mr. Morrison a job, but he really
is there to protect the family when David is away on his railroad job. Very large
man with a gentle nature who knows how to take a stand when itís needed.
Mary Logan, school teacher and mother to the Logan children. Soft spoken but not
afraid to stand up for what is right. Starts the business of boycotting the Wallace
Grandmother of the Logan children on the
fatherís side. She actually owns the land but has it transferred into her sonsí
names to protect it. Tells stories at Christmas time about her own background.
Papa (David Logan)
Father to the Logan children. Usually
is away from home to work on the railroad. Metes out advice and punishment when
he is home. Takes action against Wallace store and burns his own cotton to stop
Davidís brother. A generous
hothead who will do anything for the family but has too much of a temper to be
able to spend much time with the Logans. Sells his car to save the land.
Cassieís next youngest sibling. Chubby tag-a-long.
Has no significant action.
brother. Just entering first grade at the start of the story. Has a fetish for
cleanliness, but doesnít like to be left out of anything.
A sharecropper on Granger land that adjoins the Logan land. Easily
intimidated, unable to control his son, T.J.
Cassieís school teacher. Comes across as rather pompous. Paddles Cassie and Little
Man for refusing the books.
Jim Lee Barnett
of a mercantile in Strawberry. Dies of injuries received during the robbery of
A white lawyer and friend to
the Logans. Signs for credit so the sharecroppers can shop in Vicksburg
R.W. and Melvin Simms
White teenage boys. Have no respect for
blacks, including T.J. but will take advantage of his ignorance in order to commit
crimes and transfer the blame to him. Break in to Barnettís Mercantile, but blame
The Simms daughter. An arrogant nine
year old who insults Cassie in Strawberry
Father to Lillian Jean, R.W., Melvin and Jeremy. Hates blacks
in general. Involved in the Strawberry incident where he shoves Cassie
into the road and demands a humiliating apology for Lillian Jean.
He tries to befriend the Logans in spite of his family. A quiet, good natured
little boy who doesnít seem to fit with his own people. Brings messages to the
Logans and gets help when the fire starts.
A white land owner. Pays 50 cents an hour to field workers. Wants to buy the Logan
land as it once belonged to his ancestors.
Mary Lou Wellever
student; the daughter of the principal. Tries to squabble with Cassie on the first
day of school about her choice of seat.
Gracey Pearson, Alma Scott, Moe Turner. Students of sharecroppers. Mentioned on
the first day of school, but have no action in the plot
Sharecroppers. Have no action other than helping to fight the fire.
Sharecroppers. Victims of the initial tragedy which motivated
the Logans to stop shopping at the Wallace store. The Wallace brothers dowsed
the Berry brothers in kerosene and set them on fire. Mama takes the children to
visit the Berryís as an explanation of why they are not to go to the Wallace store.
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