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ROLL OF THUNDER, HEAR MY CRY BOOK NOTES
At recess the next day, Little Willie Wiggins tells the Logans that he heard T.J.
tell Mr. Wallace that Mrs. Logan had failed him on purpose and that she had been
destroying school property and was not a good teacher. After school, they follow
Stacey to the Avery house. T.J. at first denies having said anything that would
cause her to be fired. Stacey does not beat him up, but tells him that he has
something worse than a beating coming to him. When he returns to school, the other
children ostracize him. At first he tries to apologize, but when that doesn’t
T.J. claims that he was tired of hanging around with a bunch of children anyway. The white boys give him “things” and treat him “like a man.”
Mary Logan is an example both to her own children and to those of the sharecroppers. She is characterized in this chapter as a woman who does not make a big display of her disagreement, but quietly teaches the children what she feels is right. The school board is entirely white; thus even her own principal is intimated against defending her. While she wanders in the field trying to come to terms with her loss, Papa explains to Cassie that Mary was born to teach. Her own parents had saved every nickle they could manage to lay aside even at great personal sacrifice so Mary could attend a teacher training school.
The Wallaces and Grangers really couldn’t care less about Mary’s teaching. They don’t really care if the Black children even attend school; it is just one more step in the process of depriving the Logans of the means to pay their mortgage and the taxes on their land.
T.J. is a tragic figure. He wants the things the white boys have and wants to be treated “like a man.” He is sucked in by a game the boys are playing. They are using him, but because they give him “things,” he thinks they are his friends. He does not understand the meaning of friendship, nor of integrity. His own willingness to cheat for a passing grade makes him vulnerable to worse things and marks his weakness of character.
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Ruff, Dr. Karen. "TheBestNotes on Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry".
. 09 May 2017