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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Wilson Jeng

on 17 April 2015

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Transcript of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Plot Analysis

Chapter 1 "The Books"
Papa has awakened from his long sleep. He and Mama are discussing the family's economic problems. After Uncle Hammer gave them a large pay, they have enough to meet the payment, but after that, they don't have a lot of money. Papa refuses to ask Uncle Hammer for another loan, because if he finds out that Papa's not back on the railroad, and he discovers the reason, it's not going to end well. Papa considers selling some of their livestock, and getting their cotton ginned. Papa also doesn't think that it's safe enough to even go to Strawberry. Papa is angry that his broken leg got them into this mess, and also finds it strange that Stacey blames himself for it. He is so outraged with the Wallaces, if there's one thing he wants to do to them, it's to whip them hard. Mama compares Papa's current speech to Uncle Hammer talking, and reminds him that doing things his way would've gotten them all killed. Mama then tells Papa that Mr. Morrison has been out looking for work since the break of dawn. Although Papa has told him numerous times already that no white person would accept him, Mr. Morrison says that at least he's got to try.
Later on, Mr. Morrison plans on going to the Wigginses farm to give them some summer corn, and the children get to go with them. On the way home, a pickup truck blocks the wagon, and Mr. Morrison has the kids hide in the back. Kaleb Wallace comes out of the pickup, and starts attacking Mr. Morrison with insults about him hurting his brothers and getting off scot-free, but Mr. Morrison just calmly asks Mr. Wallace to move his vehicle. He refuses, therefore resulting in Mr. Morrison literally lifting the the truck and placing it on the side, stunning Mr. Wallace (and the children). By the time Mr. Wallace recovers, the black people were already almost out of reach, but he manages to shout one more threat to them, saying that he was going to get him one day. At home, Mama expresses her concern for Mr. Morrison, but Papa tells her not to worry.
It's now the boiling month of August, so the Logans retreat into the coolness of the damp forest. One time, Jeremy shows up, and gives them some news. He tells them that some white people are glad about Papa's injuries and that he can't go back on the railroad. He's also seen T.J. hanging out with his older adult brothers, R.W. and Melvin, and they constantly steal other black people's valuables. However, the Simms brothers secretly laugh at T.J. when he's not around. Jeremy has also built himself a tree house, and sometimes sleeps up there. He's upset when the Logans decline his offer to see his tree house, but as he's leaving, he offers to help them build one if they want to.
Mr. Jamison arrives and notifies Papa that they must pay the mortgage immediately. He has no problem deducing that Mr. Granger is behind this. Papa agrees that going to Strawberry at night is too dangerous, so he goes in the morning. Papa and Mr. Morrison return with the news that their bank account's credit is now useless. Now they'll have to depend on Uncle Hammer for money.
In late August, the annual revival arrives, which is an event where black people get together. On the first night, Uncle Hammer shows up with the money and reveals that he sold his Packard to earn it. On the last night, T.J. shows up in fine clothes with R.W. and Melvin behind him. He shows the black kids how they're nice to him and give him what he wants. Oddly for T.J., his former friends are unimpressed and leave. The Simmses then tell T.J. that they're going to get the pearl-handled pistol for him and head for their pickup truck. T.J. is confused for a moment about who his true friends are, and Cassie felt sorry for him for a moment, but then T.J. heads for the pickup.
Chapter 2 "Papa"
Sometime after the book incident, Cassie is out picking cotton with her brothers, when Papa arrives, home from the railroad. He's not alone, though. He's bought along a giant man named L.T. Morrison to stay with the Logans for a while and be their personal bodyguard. Unfortunately, Papa can only stay for one day, or else he might lose his job.
Mr. Morrison confesses that he was fired from his previous job because some white men started a fight against him. Mr. Morrison roughed them up badly, causing him to have to leave, while the white men get off scot-free.
Later, while the children are doing chores, Cassie suggests that perhaps Mr. Morrison is here because of the burnings.
The next day at church, the children learn that one of the burn victims, John Henry Berry, has died. They also get the full story: John Henry and Beacon, his brother, were in the town of Strawberry waiting to fuel their car up, when some white men accused them of flirting with a white women named Sallie Ann. They escaped to their Uncle Samuel's house, but they were dragged out and lit on fire.
An eyewitness named Henrietta Toggins reported this to the sheriff, but he just called her a liar, shooed her away and didn't do anything, despite the white men actually bragging that they'll do the same to any black man who steps out of line.
After this, Papa mentions that his family doesn't shop at the Wallace store. It turns out they're a bad influence to black people, as they encourage them to drink and smoke there. Papa also seems to have a grudge against them. He then warns his children that if he ever hears about them going to the Wallace store, he's going to whip them hard.
Chapter 5 "Strawberry"
Chapter 3 "The Bus"
The weather is downpouring, and the Logan kids have nothing to wear to protect themselves from the rain, except for some vulgar-smelling calfskins. Even worse, instead of spraying dust on them, the bus can now drench them in mud.
So, one day, the black kids decide to try to listen for the bus, then hop in a safe area to avoid its attack. Unfortunately, this only leads to them getting even more dirty, and the white kids make fun of them even more. When Jeremy arrives, Stacey takes on his rage at him, but Jeremy only says that he really likes them. Stacey then whispers to his siblings that he has a plan to stop the bus, but they don't tell T.J. and Claude, because they have big mouths.
At lunch, the Logans sneak off to the place where the bus splashed them, then they dig a large ditch that's covered with water so that it looks like it got washed out. When they return after school, the ditch looks even bigger than it was when it was dug, because of the rain.
The kids hide in the bushes and gleefully watches as the bus drives right into the hole and gets stuck. The bus driver, Mr. Grimes, angrily tells the white kids that they'll have to walk to school for at least two weeks before the bus can be repaired. The Logans depart, triumphant.
Mama tells Big Ma about the bus incident at supper, unaware that her children were involved in it. She then admits that she was glad that no one was harmed... and also that it happened.
Later that night, when the kids have uncontrollable giggles over the bus getting stuck, Joe Avery arrives, telling Mama and Big Ma that a "they" are "riding" tonight. Mama sends the children off to bed early, but the children eavesdrop on the adults. It turns out a group called the "night riders" are out tonight, but their motive is unknown. Cassie believes that it's because of the bus, but Stacey denies it, before telling them all never to let it slip.
As Cassie fakes sleeping, Stacey offers to help Mama with "whatever's the matter", but Mama calmly tells Stacey that the best way to help Mama right now is to go to sleep. Cassie notices Big Ma has taken a rifle out of her bed, and leaves. Later, Cassie sneaks outside, and sees some cars pull up. She's worried for a moment, then the cars leave, as if Cassie's home was the incorrect one. Cassie then returns to bed, still frightened.
Chapter 4 "The Cheat Notes"
Climax
Chapter 6 "Uncle Hammer"
Chapter 7 "Christmas"
Chapter 8 "The Ends of the Friendships"
Chapter 9 "The Ambush"
Chapter 10 "T.J."
Chapter 11 "The Lynchers"
Chapter 12 "The Fire"
Cassie, Christopher-John, and Little Man arrive home, where the adults had discovered their disappearance, and were worried. Just before Papa whips the kids, Cassie explains what happened. Papa then immediately grabs his shotgun and some shells, and gets Mr. Morrison to join him to stop the lynchers. However, as the men are departing, Mama begs Papa not to use the gun, before allowing them to leave.
As if they didn't have enough troubles already, a fire starts on the Logans' cotton field (which they assume was caused by lightning), resulting in Mama and Big Ma rushing out to fight it.
Near morning, Jeremy comes over, and gives the Logans some information about what happens: he was sleeping in his tree house, when he smelled smoke, so he rushed inside to tell his papa, and they, along with the night men, swiftly rushed over to put out the fire. About a quarter of the cotton field has been burned, but luckily, rain starts falling, and the children happily celebrate this.
Later, Cassie and Little Man decide to go down to observe the sight (Christopher-John chose to remain behind). They find that people of both races have united to put the fire out, despite their hatred for each other.
When they return, Stacey tells them what happened: Mr. Jamison attempted to stop the white men by blocking the road with his car and throwing his keys into Mrs. Granger's flowerbed, but R.W. and Melvin simply pushed the car off the road. Just as they were about to take off again, Mr. Granger noticed the smoke from the fire and commanded the night riders to give T.J. to Mr. Jamison and go fight the fire. The white men obeyed, and T.J. was taken into town.
At this point, Papa and Mr. Morrison return, and soon after, Mr. Jamison arrives from Strawberry, and notifies Papa that Mr. Barnett has died. T.J. has also suffered major injuries, but he'll be alright. Mr. Jamison then oddly warns Papa to try to stay out of any connection to the fire started, which leads to Cassie deducing that Papa started the fire.
After Mr. Jamison leaves, Papa comes to talk to Stacey and Cassie, and sadly admits that T.J. is currently in jail. When Stacey questions T.J.'s fate, Papa says that T.J. could result in being part of a chain gang... and implies that he could also be executed.
Stacey retreats toward the forest, while Cassie goes to bed and mourns for the burned crops, and for T.J.
Sometime that night, Cassie and Stacey wake up to find T.J. outside, severely injured.
T.J. tells them what happened: when he and the Simms brothers went to get the pistol, they found that the store had already closed. R.W. and Melvin then persuaded T.J. to break into the store with them, and if they got busted, they would just say that they were going to pay for it the next day. Then, the trio sneaked in, with the white boys covering their faces in black masks. However, when Mr. and Mrs. Barnett caught them, (with Mrs. Barnett mistaking all three for black people, due to the Simmses' masks), the couple ended up getting knocked unconsious. After they escaped, T.J. threatens the brothers that he'll tell what happened, but he ends up getting beaten up, and R.W. and Melvin calmly leave to shoot some pool. T.J. ended up getting a ride from a farmer to the Logans'.
Cassie and Stacey decide to walk T.J. home, rather than get help, as his father will be furious if he finds out his son had been out in the middle of the night. However, the younger children wake up, and despite Stacey's coaxing to get them to go back to sleep, in the end, all four Logan children walking T.J. home.
Just as T.J. crawls through his bedroom window, and the Logan children are leaving, Little Man notices some cars arriving at the Avery's. It turns out to be the night men, with R.W. and Melvin with them. They're convinced that T.J. broke in with two black boys, knocked out the Barnetts, and stole their money as well as the pistol. After the white men literally drag the Averys out of the house and find the pistol, they're determined to hang T.J.
Mr. Jamison drives up, tries to stop the lynchers and asks for T.J. to be handed over to him. But, the white men threaten him, saying that he'll also get hurt if he doesn't stop meddling with their buisness. Then the sheriff drives up, saying that Mr. Granger will be upset if a hanging takes place on his land. However, the white men figure that if they hang T.J. off Granger land, they should be just fine. They also agree that they should "take care" of Mr. Morrison and Papa while they're at it. While Mr. Jamison tries to stop them, Stacey gets Cassie and her younger brothers to get Papa, at which point they take off.
It's springtime, and it provides happiness for the family. It's around this time that Cassie's school year ends to work on the cotton fields. Jeremy admits that he wishes that their schools ended at the same time. He also reveals that T.J. has been hanging out with his older adult brothers, R.W. and Melvin, who secretly mock him behind his back.
Cassie asks Mama why the Simmses would pretend to be T.J.'s friend, and Mama replies by suggesting that perhaps they just feel good to have someone to use and laugh at.
Just then, Mr. Jamison arrives, and notifies Papa that Thurston Wallace intends on terminating the boycott. Mama is anxious about what will happen next.
After school has ended, Papa hasn't still returned to the railroad, which Cassie predicts is because he's scared that there will be an incident.
Mr. Avery and Mr. Lanier arrive at the house and tell Papa that they can't participate in the boycott anymore, due to Mr. Granger's threats to raise their cotton payment, kicking them off their land, or even putting them on a chain gang! Stacey is enraged at this, but Papa accepts their decision, and tells Stacey that they were lucky to have their own land.
Sometime later, Cassie overhears Papa and Mama having a conversation. Papa intends on heading for Vicksburg, but Mama tries to convince him to wait until the threats are cooling down. They also talk about T.J., and how he's getting out of control. Papa also plans on taking Stacey with him to Vicksburg to instruct him on being the "man of the family".
Including the Logans, there are only seven families left who are willing to participate in the boycott, which unfortunately will only make the Wallaces furious, rather than affect their buisness.
Later on, Papa, Mr. Morrison, and Stacey haven't arrived home from Vicksburg yet, and it's getting late. Mama was just thinking about going out to find them, when they suddenly arrive home... with Papa having a broken leg.
Cassie, Christopher-John, and Little Man eventually convince Stacey to tell them what happened: while they were coming home, the wheels came loose, which they assume was because someone sabotaged them. While they were making repairs, a truck rolled up, and one of the people in there shot Papa (not fatally). The sound scared Jack, their mule, and due to Stacey not being strong enough to hold him, Jack attempted to trot away, causing the wagon to roll over Papa's leg, breaking it. Stacey therefore blames himself for Papa's broken leg. Cassie reassures him that it was the men's fault, not his. After Papa got injured, Mr. Morrison attacked the men, (whom Stacey now suspects was the Wallaces) breaking one's back, and severely injuring another, causing them to retreat. The children are then concerned for Papa and hope that he heals soon.
Cassie has started to be nice to Lillian Jean, by carrying her books for her and results in hearing a lot of her secrets. Meanwhile, T.J.'s trying to goad Stacey into giving the answers for Mama's final exam.
One day, Papa talks to Cassie about the events in Strawberry in the forest. He explains that there are a lot of things that you have to do that you don't want in life. For example, if Cassie had fought Mr. Simms, the Logans would have ended up in hot water.
After final exams day, Cassie finds out that T.J. has been caught cheating again, and takes the blame on the Logans. She then tells Lillian Jean that she has a surprise for her. Lillian Jean excitedly follows Cassie to the forest, only to see her dump her (Lillian Jean's) books. The two girls then battle, with Cassie surprisingly being the victor. She then forces Lillian Jean to apologize for everything she and her family has done. Lillian Jean then threatens to tell her father, but Cassie blackmails her by saying that if she does, she'll reveal the secrets that Lillian Jean has generously been telling her. As Cassie leaves though, Lillian Jean is oddly confused about why Cassie did that, as she was "such a nice little girl".
The next day at school, Cassie sees Kaleb Wallace at school. Excusing herself to use the bathroom, she goes to the seventh grade building, where Mr. Wallace, Mr. Wellever, the principal, Mr. Granger, and a school board superintendent asks Mama to teach a lesson while they watch, and the lesson of the day just happened to be slavery. While she was teaching, Mr. Granger picks up a textbook and finds the covered-up lists. He then questions Mama as to why her lessons don't follow the books, and a defiant Mama replies it's because the book's information isn't true. This leads Mr. Granger to fire Mama, which really damages her personality of loving teaching.
The next day, a friend of the Logans, Little Willie Wiggins, tells them that he overheard T.J. telling the Wallaces that Mama failed him deliberately, damaged school property (refering to the textbooks), and reveals that she's the one responsible for the boycott. The Logans dash to T.J.'s house and confront him, but he denies it, but accidentally lets it slip that he told someone that Mama failed him. As a punishment for T.J., when he goes to school the next day, everyone acts as if he's not there. T.J. then even starts lying about Little Willie spreading rumors to make him look bad! Unfortunately, that was the last straw for T.J., and the Logans leave him for good. But T.J. yells at them that he has white friends who treat him nicely, but the Logans just ignore him.
Big Ma is taking T.J., Stacey, and Cassie to the town of Strawberry for shopping. Cassie especially find this exciting, as it is the first time she's going. T.J.'s going because Mr. Avery needs several items picked up, and the real reason Cassie's going is because she's going to make sure T.J. shuts up. Luckily, it's late at night, so T.J. gives in and rests. Cassie's disappointed by Strawberry's appearance when they arrive; it looks like an old, poor-conditioned town. As Big Ma parks, Cassie questions her why they have to stop way out back when there are empty spaces in front. Big Ma replies by saying that those wagons belonged to white people.
After market, Big Ma has an appointment with black-friendly lawyer, Mr. Jamison. While she's gone, T.J. suggests that they go down to Barnett mercantile to buy his goods. When arriving, T.J. points out a pearl handled pistol, and imagines how no one with want to tick him off if he had it. T.J. then gives his list to Mr. Barnett, but as he was filling his order, a white woman comes up, and Mr. Barnett stops helping T.J. to help her instead. Despite Cassie objecting, Stacey urges her to hold her tongue. After serving the white woman, Mr. Barnett starts to help T.J. again, but as he started, his wife called him, saying that more white people needed his help. As the trio decide to leave after a few minutes, Cassie is enraged when she spots Mr. Barnett delivering an order of pork chops for a young girl. Cassie comprehended helping an adult first, but she believes that helping a child who was barely older than her first was ridiculous. Cassie then complains to Mr. Barnett about this, resulting in her and Stacey getting kicked out of the store.
As the siblings walk away, Cassie accidentally bumps into Lillian Jean Simms, Jeremy's older sister. She forces Cassie to apologize, which she does, but Lillian Jean, still not satisfied, attempts to make Cassie get onto the road to apologize. Cassie tries to just walk away, but Mr. Simms forcefully twists Cassie's arm and pushes her off the sidewalk onto the road, and tries once again to get her to apologize. Cassie endeavors fleeing to the wagon, but Big Ma catches her. She then reluctantly makes Cassie apologize. After that, Mr. Simms demands that Cassie refer to Lillian Jean as "Miss". Cassie complains to Big Ma, but to no avail, and apologizes once more. Then, she dashes towards the wagon, weeping, thinking that, "No day in all my life had ever been as cruel as this one".
As Cassie and Stacey go into the barn to unhitch Jack, their mule, Stacey tells Cassie not to blame Big Ma for what happened, because Cassie isn't mature enough to understand them yet. Just then, Stacey finds Mr. Granger's Packard in the barn. But it turns out that it belongs to their Uncle Hammer, who has come to visit. As Stacey returns to unhitching Jack, Uncle Hammer asks Cassie to tell him about her first time at Strawberry. But as Cassie's starting, Big Ma strangely tries multiple times to get her not to tell. In the end, though, after Cassie tells about what happened at the mercantile, she tells about the event with the Simmses. Big Ma's motive to prevent the story from getting to Uncle Hammer is now crystal clear: Uncle Hammer has an almost uncontrollable temper, and he immediately heads to his Packard, saying that he has a gun. Stacey runs to get Mr. Morrison, who jumps into the car as it starts to speed away.
While Christopher-John hopes that Mr. Morrison will convince Uncle Hammer to calm down, Cassie and Little Man are ready for him to take care of Mr. Simms. This causes all three of them to be sent to bed early. Later on, Mama and Cassie have a talk. Mama explains to Cassie that Big Ma had no choice but to make Cassie apologize, or real harm would've been done. Mama then talks about how white men think they're better than black men, with Cassie agreeing with her that it's not true. Mama then states that Cassie has grown up a bit.
The next day, Cassie is disappointed to find out that Uncle Hammer didn't do anything last night to Mr. Simms. However, Stacey says that it may be for the best, as Uncle Hammer might have been killed if he had done any real damage. However, they are overjoyed when the learn that they'll be going to church in the Packard. Before they leave though, Uncle Hammer notices Stacey's old, thin jacket, and gives him an early Christmas present: a new wool coat. They are greeted by admirers of Packard. T.J. makes fun of Stacey's coat, saying that he looks like "a fat preacher".
After church, Uncle Hammer gives the Logans a "real ride". As they're returning, he spots the Wallace store, and admits that he wants to burn it down. When they head for a bridge, a white family is trying to cross, but they let the Logans pass first, and Uncle Hammer speeds across. Big Ma points out that they'll think that he's Mr. Granger. The Wallaces happen to be on the other side, and as they start to tip their hats, they were dumbfounded to see that the man behind the wheel was black. The children are laughing, but Mama sternly tells Uncle Hammer that they'll regret it one day.
Mama's ready to fix Stacey's coat to make it just his size, but Stacey reveals that he's given it to T.J., due to the fact that he's tired of him teasing him. Uncle Hammer scolds him for being stupid enough to fall for T.J.'s trick, and says that T.J. can keep it. Meanwhile, Lillian Jean is being an even bigger pest to Cassie, and T.J.'s becoming even more obnoxious, now that he has a spectacular coat, leading Cassie to want to take them both down.
On Christmas Eve, Papa is home from the railroad, and that night, after a great feast, the whole family gathers around the fireplace with peanuts and family stories to share. They tell light-hearted ones, like one about Papa and Uncle Hammer robbing their neighbor's watermelons, but the happy mood dies when Mr. Morrison tells his own story. He reveals that when he was only six years old, his family was attacked by the night men. His mother tossed him out of their burning home to help him escape, but no matter how hard his parents fought, his family were killed that night. There's a shocked silence before Mr. Morrison goes to bed and Big Ma starts to talk to Papa and Uncle Hammer about the land. That night, Cassie wakes up from a nightmare, creeps down to the living room, and overhears the adults talking. Mama is furious that poor black kids drink liquor at the Wallace store, adding the alcohol to their family's bill. Uncle Hammer once again suggests burning the place down, but again, it's turned down. Big Ma then says that she's doing something that will make sure that Mr. Granger won't get their land when she's gone. She and Papa agree that they should find some other way of backing people's credit other than using their land to let them shop at Vicksburg. Papa then notices Cassie awake, so he tucks her back into bed and soothes Cassie, saying that they won't lose their land.
On Christmas morning, the children are delighted to have gotten books, some treats, and new clothes from Uncle Hammer. The Averys are over for dinner, but then afterwards, Jeremy arrives nervously, and manages to give the Logans some nuts and Stacey a hand-crafted wooden flute before he leaves. T.J. attempts to goad Stacey into getting rid of the flute, but Stacey doesn't fall for it. When the Averys are gone, Papa explains to Stacey that being friends with a white kid is fine during childhood, but when they're adults, it could cause conflicts. Nevertheless, Stacey puts the flute in his "box of treasured things".
The next morning, the kids are whipped by Papa for going to the Wallace store. After that, Papa, Uncle Hammer, and Mr. Morrison go to Vicksburg to run a mysterious errand. It turns out that they were looking for someone to back the credit for the families participating in the boycott, and Mr. Jamison offers to be the one, although Uncle Hammer points out that this will result in him being unpopular among the white people. Mr. Jamison points out the risk that the boycott could be accusing the Wallaces for murder. He also mentions that Mr. Granger gets some money from the Wallaces' profits. While he's leaving, he says that the Logans won't win the war against the Wallaces, but Papa says that they have to try. Several days later, the men return from Vicksburg with a wagonload of items that the black people ordered from Vicksburg. Mr. Granger arrives and threatens to take their land from them, but Papa coolly says that it won't happen. Mr. Granger leaves by saying that there are numerous ways to stop the Logans from their actions, but Papa responds by saying to make them good.
Cassie Logan, a nine-year old black girl, is walking to school with her brothers Stacey, Christopher-John, and Little Man. Stacey, the oldest, is especially sour because he has to be in their mother's 7th grade class this year. Cassie explains that in the past, her grandfather bought 400 acres of land from the white Grangers. Their land is valuable to them, and they can plant cotton on it to make a profit. But 200 acres have been mortgaged, and because of the Great Depression, the price for cotton is lower. Therefore, Cassie's papa found a job on the railroad, and is often there for long periods of time, helping the Logans earn money. Just then, T.J. Avery and his younger brother Claude (also African-American), whose family is poor, arrive and join the Logans. T.J. tries to goad Stacey into helping him cheat on tests, since his (Stacey) mother's their teacher, after all. Luckily, Stacey is an honest kid and turns down this plan. T.J. then brings news that Mr. Berry and his two nephews (all three black) have been burned by some white men. Cassie reveals to the audience her dislike for T.J., and he mentions how he almost got in trouble for going to the "Wallace store". However, T.J. got out of it by lying that he went there to get Claude back, causing him (Claude) to get whipped instead. All of a sudden, Stacey commands everyone to get off the road, but Little Man, being picky about his appearance, refuses to go down there, as it risks getting him dirty. It turns out the "threat" was the school bus carrying white kids, whose driver often likes to purposely speed past the black kids, while spraying dust all over them. Little Man's clothes are ruined, and he gets upset. The black kids don't have a school bus, resulting in some of them having to walk to school for miles! Jeremy Simms then arrives. He's a white boy who's an outcast because he likes to be with the Logans. Jeremy goes to a school for white children, while the black people go to a school for them. Also, the black kids' school starts off later, because they have to help their families pick cotton.
The black kids reach their school, where the poor black kids aren't wearing new clothes, except for Mary Lou Wellever, the principal's daughter. The fourth and first graders share the same room, so Cassie and Little Man are in the same classroom. This year, everyone in the class is especially excited because they have books for the first time. However, the books are messy and worn-out, causing Little Man to get into trouble when he asks for a different one. His request is turned down, though, so he goes back to his seat. There, he reads something that makes him so upset, he throws his book on the ground and begins stomping on it. The teacher, Miss Crocker, threatens to whip Little Man if he doesn't pick up the book. Cassie quickly looks in her book and spots a chronological list of the conditions of the book. It also records the user's race, and she now sees what made Little Man angry: the book originally was used by white kids in its good condition, but when it became "Very Poor", it was passed on the black kids. Little Man gets whipped, despite Cassie's explanation to Miss Crocker. Miss Crocker then whips Cassie after she rejects her book too.
Sometime later, Cassie goes to talk to Mama, but Miss Crocker beat her to it. She starts complaining to Mama how the "perfectly good" books were turned down by Cassie and Little Man, but to her dismay, Mama isn't bothered by that. In fact, Mama just glues paper over the offensive lists, upsetting Miss Crocker. It's revealed that Mama is considered a sort of rebel. Miss Crocker says that people have to learn how things are. Mama counters by saying that it doesn't necessarily mean that they have to accept it. Mama also plans to paste over the lists from her seventh grade books.
Rising Action
Climax
Falling Action
Resolution
While Cassie's churning butter, Mama and Big Ma discuss how the children have been quiet lately. They wonder if Cassie had seen the night men, and when Cassie overhears this, she accidentally topples over, breaking the butter mold. Mama helps Cassie clean up, and she (Mama) takes care of the butter, while Cassie goes to the living room with the boys. T.J. is there, and he was currently explaining the process of getting out of work. He then tries to get Stacey to give the test answers, and have the Logan kids come with him to the Wallace store, but both of his requests are denied. Then T.J. mentions some news about the night men. It turns out the reason for the night men riding was to tar and feather Mr. Sam Tatum, a black man who called white store owner Mr. Barnett a liar. Christopher-John accidentally asks if it wasn't because of the bus, resulting in Little Man to get worried if they're going to share the same fate with Mr. Tatum. Later, the Logans catch T.J. looking through Mama's textbook, most likely attempting to look for the answers to the test. Afterwards, the kids decide to check on Mr. Morrison, who now lives in a shack near the house, which the kids enjoy cleaning. The Logan children all like him, except for Stacey, who believes that being the "man of the house" is his job.
The next day, T.J. reveals to the Logans a cheat sheet that he made, but Stacey rips it to pieces, hoping to keep T.J. out of trouble. After school, Cassie, Christopher-John, and Little Man sees T.J. bolting out the door without waiting for Stacey. It turns out T.J. had made another set of cheat sheets, and during the test, T.J quickly passed them to Stacey when he saw Mama coming, causing Stacey to get whipped. Stacey, being an honorable friend, refused to tell on T.J. Later, Stacey comes out, determined to get revenge on the friend that betrayed him. T.J.'s gone to the Wallace store, certain that the Logans won't go there. Cassie tries to get Stacey not to go there, but when Stacey goes, the rest of the Logans also go. At the store, the white men insult them. Stacey then spots T.J., heads over, and starts beating him up. Mr. Morrison then arrives to take the Logans home. As they're riding, Mr. Morrison tells the children that he won't tell Mama about them going to the Wallace store... because he wants them to tell Mama themselves. He explains that sometimes people have no choice but to fight, but doing it at the Wallace store will only allow the Wallaces to amuse themselves. Stacey then willingly says that he'll tell them.
When they get home, they see Mr. Granger leaving in his Packard. Big Ma says he was trying to take away their land again. She tells Cassie the story of how they got the land. When Mr. Granger's father, Fillmore, had to sell some land, he sold it to a man named Mr. Hollenbeck. He then offered to give it back to Fillmore Granger for a cheaper price, but he refused it. Therefore, Mr. Hollenbeck gave it to whoever wanted to buy it. Paul Edward, Big Ma's husband, bought it, and so did Charles Jamison, the father of Wade Jamison, a local lawyer. Wade Jamison then sold 200 acres of land to Paul Edward, who had also bought 200 acres from Mr. Hollenbeck. Big Ma then tells more about the family's past.
Later, when Mama gets home, Stacey tells Mama about the even at the Wallace store, but he only tells enough to leave out T.J.'s cheating, and the fact that the other Logan kids were there. Mama deduces that the quartet were all there, so she sends them to bed early. At dawn, Mama gets the kids into the wagon to visit Mr. Berry, one of the burn victims, and give his family supplies. It's revealed that the Wallaces participated in the burnings. After that, Mama stops by at a lot of black familes' homes to tell them not to shop at the Wallace store. However, Mr. Turner refuses to do so, because there isn't any other store that's convenient, and he has nothing to back his credit. However, Mama mentions a place called Vicksburg, where the Logans could get the items for them, and she would find someone else to back their credit. Mr. Turner talks about how burning is an awful way to die, before saying that he'll think about it.
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