Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Study Guide

Mildred D. Taylor

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry | Chapter 2 | Summary



The Logan family is working their cotton fields. Big Ma is supervising as the younger, lighter children climb up poles to harvest the higher cotton. Because she is up in the air, Cassie is the first to see two men walking along the road. It is her father and another man. After greeting his children, David Logan introduces Mr. L.T. Morrison. Mr. Logan will only be staying through Sunday, but Mr. Morrison will be living there with them and helping them on the farm. Morrison lost his job after getting into a fight with some white men.

Since their father had never brought anyone home before, the children speculate why he brought Mr. Morrison. Cassie asks Stacey if he thinks it is because of the burnings. The next day at church, Cassie learns that John Henry Berry died from his burns that night. Mrs. Lanier, one of the church ladies, tells the story of Berry's encounter with some white men at a gas station. The encounter led to them burning him and his farm. Mr. Avery adds a story about a lynching a few days earlier. Papa finally speaks, saying the Logan family "don't shop at the Wallace store." This shuts down conversation. After the other families leave, Papa calls the Logan children to him and tells them never to go to the Wallace store.


In the opening of this chapter, the children literally climb higher and therefore can see farther than the adults, because they are much lighter. However, the image also suggests easy symbolism. The younger generation rises higher and sees further than older generations (even as those older generations like Big Ma hover protectively near their climbing). What Cassie sees from her position in the air is her father returning home and the start of a new chapter in their lives. He brings with him Mr. Morrison, with whom he works on the railroad. This is the first time their father has brought someone back from his railroad work with him. When the children speculate it is because of the burnings, they may not be technically correct. Their father tells the family it is because Mr. Morrison got in a fight with white men. However, Mr. Morrison's presence is connected to the burnings in one important and very real sense. It is a sign of the widespread conflict between whites and blacks and how deep the conflict runs. Mr. Morrison lost his job because of who he fought with and because of his race.

The discussion of the burnings produces considerable foreshadowing. Papa tells the other families the Logans don't shop at the Wallace store. His statement makes the others in the conversation uncomfortable enough they stop talking. It marks the Logans as somewhat different within the black community. Papa realizes shopping at that store, or even visiting it, supports the store's owners and condones their activities. At this point he is simply making a statement for his family. They will keep their hands clean. However, as the novel goes on, this statement will develop into a collective political strategy whereby several families bond together to boycott that store.

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