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ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY BOOK REVIEW


CHAPTER 2


Summary

The Logans are in the field picking cotton when Papa appears coming down the road. He is home unexpectedly and has brought a guest, Mr. Morrison, with him. Mr. Morrison has lost his job on the railroad for fighting with white men; he says it was the white men’s fault, but, of course, they did not lose their jobs. Cassie senses that Mr. Morrison is there for some reason other than a job.

After church the next day, Cassie listens to the adults as they exchange the neighborhood gossip. One of the Berry men have died; Mrs. Lanier says that the whole incident happened when the Berrys pulled up to a gas pump next to some white men and Henrietta Toggins claimed that one of the Berry men had been flirting with her daughter. The men chased the Berrys dragged them out of a house and set fire to them. As if changing the subject, Papa announces that the Logan family doesn’t shop at the Wallace store which is where most of the sharecroppers do their shopping. Papa says that the Wallaces have been selling bootleg liquor to kids and that he doesn’t want his children hanging around the Wallaces.


Notes

Taylor uses the church meeting and front porch chat as devices to tell what actually happened to the Berrys although she does not yet reveal who is responsible. Mr. Morrison is introduced as a “human tree in height,” taller even that David Logan who is over 6 feet himself. Mary Logan also implies that things are going on which have not been revealed to the children, thus creating some foreshadowing for future crises.


CHAPTER 3


Summary

The end of October with the late fall rains has arrived. The children trudge to school in the mud, trying to get to the crossroads in time to prevent the Jefferson Davis school bus from spraying them with wet, red mud from the puddles. They are not usually successful. The next day the bus speeds by so close to the them that the children are forced to leap into the ditch to avoid being hit. Stacey figures out a way to get revenge and prevent the splashing from happening again, at least for awhile. At lunch time, he takes Cassie and the boys through the woods to the spot where the bus had splashed them that morning. Using pails and shovels, they dig a ditch all the way across the road and fill it with water. The plan works even better than they had planned, as continued rain and washout widen their ditch to the proportions of a small lake all the way across the dirt road. The bus driver barrels full speed into the ditch, breaking an axle and getting the bus stuck in the mud. The white children have to walk home in the rain.

That evening the children struggle with fits of giggles over their sweet revenge. Their revelry is brought to a halt when Mr. Avery arrives with the news that the night men are riding again. He mentions the bus driver which makes the kids think that someone knows what they did. They have a miserable, sleepless night, but nothing happens beyond a caravan of cars using their driveway to turn around.



Notes

The “night men” are a group of self appointed enforcers who ride around at night terrifying the black families whenever they think one of them has gotten “out of line.” Their continuous threat is one of the reasons David Logan has brought Mr. Morrision to their home.


CHAPTER 4


Summary

After the Logan children have moped for a week, expecting any moment to have their secret revealed, T.J. Avery pays a visit to the boys. T.J. wants them to sneak down to the Wallace store and learn how to do the new dances, but Stacey reminds him that they are not permitted to go there. Failing to bait them with forbidden adventure,
T.J. announces that he has the “latest” about the night men. They had gone to the Tatum place where they had tarred and feathered Mr. Tatum for calling Mr. Barnett a liar. Mr. Barnett (who ran the Mercantile in Strawberry) had charged Tatum for a number of items that were never ordered. Relieved that it had nothing to do with the bus, the children leave the room to run an errand for Mama-but T.J. does not immediately follow as he says he has to get his hat. A few minutes later they find him in Mama’s room looking at her school materials. He denies looking for answers to an upcoming test, but the implication is that he was doing exactly that.

A few days later, T.J. shows them a paper on the way to school. Stacey takes it from him and tears it into little pieces. At lunch time, T.J. makes a new cheat list. When he sees Mrs. Logan coming toward him during the test, he slips the notes to Stacey who doesn’t see his mother coming. Consequently, Stacey gets the whipping for cheating.

After school, T.J. takes off toward the Wallace store. Stacey follows him after trying to tell the other children to go home. They refuse and go with him. Stacey catches up to T.J. outside the store and a fist fight ensues which is stopped by Mr. Morrison who puts the kids in his wagon and takes them home. He promises not to tell, but only because he is leaving it up to Stacey to tell on himself.

The next evening, Stacey having already told his mother about the incident, Mary takes the kids for a ride to the Berry home. There they meet Mr. Berry who spends his days in the dark and lives in constant pain as a result of the burns inflicted on him. Mary tells the children that the Wallaces did that-which is the reason they no longer go to the Wallace store. On the way home she stops at the Turner home in an attempt to get them to stop shopping at the Wallace store as well.


Notes

Taylor uses a pacing device to create the passage of time of the ride home from the store and to tell the story of the Logan land. They are the only black family in the area who owns their own land; Grandpa Logan had bought 200 acres from a Yankee who had purchased all the Granger land after the war. The elder Jamison had also bought about 2000 acres. Later the Grangers wanted to buy it all back, but the elder Jamison and Logan wouldn’t sell. When Mr. Jamison died, his son Wade sold another 200 acres to the Logans and the rest of it back to the Grangers. Mr. Granger is at the Logan house when Mr. Morrison gets the kids home. Mama tells them that he has been after them to sell their land “again.”


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