Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Study Guide

Mildred D. Taylor

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Course Hero, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Study Guide," April 13, 2018, accessed July 15, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Roll-of-Thunder-Hear-My-Cry/.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Chapter 10 | Summary

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Summary

A week later, Papa and Mama are talking about money. Mama asks if they should borrow some from Hammer, but Papa says no. Letting Hammer know Papa wasn't on the railroad would let him know something had happened and trigger Hammer's temper, which would make things worse. They talk about other aspects of the situation, including how Stacey blames himself for something he could not have prevented. They discuss how angry Papa is at the men and how Mr. Morrison is out looking for work.

Mr. Morrison's return home interrupts this talk. He's there to take the Logans' planter to Mr. Wiggins, so he can put in summer corn. Cassie and the boys go with him. On the way back from the Wiggins' farm, Mr. Morrison sends Cassie to the back of the wagon to join the boys when he sees a pickup truck. The truck stops so it blocks the road, and Kaleb Wallace gets out. He starts insulting Mr. Morrison. Mr. Morrison calmly asks if he's going to move the truck. Mr. Morrison checks to see if Wallace has a gun handy. Then he walks over to the truck, lifts the front end, and shifts it out of the way. He does the same thing with the rear end, stunning Kaleb Wallace into silence with his strength. By the time Kaleb recovers, Mr. Morrison has the wagon down the road. Once he has the children safely home, Mr. Morrison explains the event to Mama, who tells him he is "a part of us now."

August is hot. The children spend as much time in the woods as they can. Jeremy sometimes joins them. During one of these times, he tells them T.J. is spending time with Jeremy's brothers. Cassie thinks about the stories they've heard about T.J. stealing from people recently.

Papa sends Mr. Morrison to make the August mortgage payment. When he returns, Mr. Morrison tells him the bank told him the mortgage "was due and payable immediately." The next day Papa calls Hammer and tells him the situation. Hammer says he'll get the money they need. Everyone worries about them losing the land, but Papa has faith they won't.

The local revival begins "the third Sunday of August," as it does every year. The community prepares for it, their one formal event of the year. Everyone pitches in, making special food for the revival until it is "a feast to remember." While the children are enjoying the feast, they see a man walking down the road. It is Uncle Hammer. He's sold his car and has come to deliver the money in person to pay the mortgage. Hammer stays until Monday; then Mr. Morrison takes him to Vicksburg so he can return to Chicago.

After Uncle Hammer is gone, T.J. shows up at the revival with the Simms brothers. He's wearing fancy new clothes and is proud of them and his new friends. The Logan children reject him, though, and can see the contempt the Simms brothers have for T.J., even though he can't see it.

Analysis

This chapter continues the portrayal of Mr. Morrison as a hero and nearly a superhero. When the Wallaces stop him on the road, after he wisely checks for a gun, he once again demonstrates his immense strength. He is so strong he can move one end of a truck by himself. That strength alone might play into stereotypes about black physical prowess, but he also shows judgment and self-restraint, two qualities that very much break with the stereotypes.

Throughout this novel Taylor pairs or juxtaposes examples of concepts or principles to emphasize them. This chapter presents at least five variations on the theme of belonging to something larger than oneself. The first is Mama's response to Mr. Morrison's actions on the road: she claims him as part of their family now. This would have been moving to anyone, but is more so since Mr. Morrison lost his parents and knew however much they loved one another, they'd been forced together by slaveholders. The second example is bittersweet. Though Jeremy Taylor comes from a large family, he does not like them and chooses to spend time with his black friends instead. The third example is the revival, the community's shared festival. Everyone looks forward to it, and everyone, no matter how poor, contributes to it. They make their faith a feast. Uncle Hammer illustrates the fourth example of belonging to something greater when he arrives at the revival on foot. He loved his Packard and was proud of it, both in itself and because it was the equal of Harlan Granger's car. However, he sells his car without complaint and speaks of it dismissively when his family needs the money to pay the mortgage. And finally, the pathetic sight of T.J. standing alone and confused in his fine new clothes shows the saddest aspect of the need to belong. T.J. lacks the character to earn respect from the black community, as the Logan siblings do. He also lacks the judgment to see his new friends, the Simms brothers, are not genuine. He thinks he is rising above Cassie and Stacey, but he's about to fall from a great height.

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