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Free Study Guide for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry-BookNotes

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IMPORTANT QUOTES - QUOTATIONS AND ANALYSIS (continued)


11. Everybody from Smelling Creek to Strawberry knows it was them but what do we do about it? We line their pockets with our few pennies and send our children up to their store to learn things theyve got no business learning. The older children are drinking regularly there now, even though they dont have any money to pay, and the Wallaces are simply adding the liquor charges to the family bill.

Attribution/Analysis - Mary Logan is making a case for taking the shopping to Vicksburg, thus drawing as many tenant farmers as possible away from the Wallace store. The Logans are the only ones who can do anything to actively protest the burning of the Berry brothers because they are the only ones who cant be driven off the land for crossing the whites. (pg. 151)

12. Far as Im concerned, friendship between black and white dont mean that much cause it usually aint on an equal basis. Right now you and Jeremy might get along fine, but in a few years hell think of himself as a man, but youll probably still be a boy to him. And if he feels that way, hell turn on you in a minute.

Attribution/Analysis - Papa in response to Staceys comments on the friendship of Jeremy. Jeremy has just brought them some Christmas gifts-a bag of nuts for Mama and a handmade flute for Stacey. Jeremys friendship has been with significant personal sacrifice as the other white kids make fun of him and occasionally his father has whipped him for hanging around the Logan kids. Stacey has just told Papa that if he let him, Jeremy could be a better friend than T.J. (pg. 157)

13. We Logans dont have much to do with the white folks... Cause white folks mean trouble. You see blacks hanging round with whites, theyre headed for trouble. Maybe one day whites and blacks can be real friends, but right now the country aint built that way. Now you could be right bout Jeremy making a much finer friend that T.J. ever will be. The trouble is, down here in Mississippi, it costs too much to find out...

Attribution/Analysis - Papa explaining why Stacey should not pursue friendship with Jeremy. Stacey doesnt believe that Jeremy would turn on him. His fathers words are a foreshadowing of coming trouble for T.J., but also a reflection of the cost to both black and white if they try to cross the barrier. (pg. 158)

14. There are ... things ... that if Id let be, theyd eat away at me and destroy me in the end...there are things you cant back down on, things you gotta take a stand on. But its up to you to decide what them things are. You have to demand respect in this world, aint nobody just gonna hand it to you. How you carry yourself, what you stand for-thats how you gain respect. But, little one, aint nobodys respect worth more than your own.

Attribution/Analysis - Papa is talking to Cassie about what Lillian Jean had done to her. Essentially, he gives her permission to stand up to Lillian Jean and find a way to get back at her, so long as he and Charlie Simms dont have to be involved in it.


15. To make matters worse, her lesson for the day was slavery. She spoke on the cruelty of it; the rich economic cycle it generated as slaves produced the raw products for the factories of the north and Europe; how the country profited and grew from the free labor of a people still not free.

Attribution/Analysis - Cassies observation of her mothers history lesson on the day she is fired. The lesson wasnt the reason they fired her-it just gave them fuel to attack her with. The real reason was the shopping in Vicksburg. T.J. had complained about her being an unfair teacher, defacing school property, and teaching things that were not in the books which they could justifiably dismiss her for if true. Her lesson of the day is not in the book, but as she explains to the men who come into her class, everything in the book isnt true.( pg. 183)

16. You, boy, dont you get so grown you go to talking bout more than you know. Them men, they doing what theyve gotta do. You got any idea what a risk they took just to go shopping in Vicksburg in the first place? They go on that chain gang and their families got nothing. Theyll get kicked off that plot of land they tend and therell be no place for them to go.

Attribution/Analysis - Papa scolding Stacey for his outburst over the tenants backing out on the Vicksburg shopping arrangement. Papa understands that they are backing out because they have to.( pg. 205)

17. You see that fig tree over yonder?... Them other trees all around . . . that oak and walnut, theyre a lot bigger and they take up more room and give so much shade they almost overshadow that little ole fig. But that fig trees got roots that run deep, and it belongs in that yard as much as that oak and walnut. It keeps on blooming, bearing good fruit year after year, knowing all the time itll never get as big as them other trees. Just keeps on growing and doing what it gotta do. It dont give up. It give up, itll die. .. Theres a lesson to be learned from that little tree...cause were like it. We keep doing what we gotta, and we dont give up. We cant.

Attribution/Analysis - Papas explanation to Cassie for why he will not give up shopping in Vicksburg. The trees are an analogy for the community with major landowners that nearly overpower the smaller ones, but the small ones like himself still having a right to be there. Its a lesson in persistence rather than spontaneous violence. The whites may not like his presence, but as long as he hangs onto the land and there are a few decent whites such as Jamison to speak up on occasion, his enemies cant do anything about him. (pg. 206)

18. Kaleb Wallace is one of them folks who cant do nothing by himself. He got to have a lot of other folks backing him up plus a loaded gun....

Attribution/Analysis - Mr. Morrison explains how he knew it was safe to move Wallaces truck off the road. His evaluation of Wallace is also accurate; whenever the Wallaces have attacked the black community, it has been with numbers. (pg. 226)

19. What goods a car? It cant grow cotton. You cant build a home on it. And you cant raise four fine babies in it.

Attribution/Analysis - Uncle Hammer has sold his car to get enough money to pay off the mortgage. It is more than just an issue of money that David understands. The car was a status symbol for Hammer, proof that he could have anything a white person could have, and could get it by his own efforts. However, a car may symbolize wealth and success, but it is not an indication of permanence. Hammer sacrifices the visible symbol for the more enduring one. (pg. 236)

20. Stacey looked around at me sharply, his face drawn, his eyes anxious and without even a murmur from him I suddenly did know. I knew why Mr. Morrison had come for him alone. Why Mr. Jamison was afraid for Papa to go into town. Papa had found a way, as Mama had asked, to make Mr. Granger stop the hanging: He had started the fire.

Attribution/Analysis - Cassie as she realizes what it took to prevent the white gang from hanging T.J. However, Mr. Jamison also knows how the fire started and is afraid that if people start thinking, they may begin to wonder how lightning could have sparked off the post to start the fire in the cotton-and leave no evidence on the post. It also shows the lengths the Logans would go to in order to try to protect their people. Papa puts forth as much effort to save T.J. as he would to save one of his own. But then, that is what friendship and family are all about. (pg. 273)

21. I had never liked T.J., but he had always been there, a part of me, a part of my life, just like the mud and the rain, and I had thought that he always would be. Yet the mud and the rain and the dust would all pass. I knew and understood that. What had happened to T.J. in the night I did not understand, but I knew that it would not pass. And I cried for those things which had happened in the night and would not pass.

Attribution/Analysis - Cassie has realized that T.J. will die for the break in of the Mercantile and the death of Mr. Barnett. Troublesome as T.J. was, he was a part of her community. The year began with the burning of the Berry brothers and ends with the implied conviction and probably execution of T.J. Avery. It is not a resolution as the situation between blacks and whites is actually getting worse.

The Berrys had done nothing to deserve the treatment they received. T.J. had at least been committing little misdemeanors along with his white friends. But the ones who really committed the break in and the murder will go free just as will those who set the Berrys on fire. Cassie realizes that these kinds of events cannot just pass. They will build until eventually something must happen to effect a change. This change, however, does not appear to be in the immediate future. (pg. 276)


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