Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Mildred Taylor
Mildred Taylor was born in Jackson, Mississippi, but her family moved to Toledo, Ohio when she was just three months old. Taylor grew up in Toledo, though her family frequently visited relatives in Mississippi, which is where she developed an interest in and knowledge of the South. She attended the University of Toledo and spent two years in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps, teaching English and history. Taylor then attended the University of Colorado where she received a Master’s degree in journalism and was active in the Black Student Alliance. In 1975, she published her first book, Song of the Trees, which began the Logan family saga that would continue in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Taylor now lives with her daughter in Colorado.
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Historical Context of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
The story takes place in 1933, during the height of the Great Depression. Since the story occurs considerably before the Civil Rights Movement, rampant racial inequality is very much a reality, especially in the South. However, some things are starting to shift—more African Americans are receiving an education (like Mama in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry) and working decent jobs. Although these changes provide hope, many white people feel threatened by this progress and turn to violence and aggression to control African Americans.
Other Books Related to Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is preceded by Song of the Trees and followed by Let the Circle Be Unbroken, books that also follow the Logans in their Mississippi town during the Depression. The works of Alice Walker and Toni Morrison, like Walker's, deal intricately with issues of racism, gender, and self-identity among black populations in the United States, but their writing is geared towards a more adult audience. 
Key Facts about Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • Full Title: Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
  • When Written: 1976
  • Where Written: Los Angeles
  • When Published: 1976
  • Literary Period: Contemporary/Social Realism
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Setting: Rural Mississippi during the Depression (early 1930s)
  • Climax: R.W. and Melvin Simms trick T.J. into robbing Barnett Mercantile with them.
  • Antagonist: Racism, Harlan Granger, the Wallaces, the Simms family
  • Point of View: First person, Cassie’s point of view
Extra Credit for Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Peace Corps. Mildred Taylor joined the Peace Corps in 1965 and taught English and history in Ethiopia for two years before returning to the States to get her Masters degree.

Storytelling Genes. Mildred Taylor says that her father is the one who taught her the importance of storytelling. He showed her that telling stories is a way to pass down family legacies and educate others about history. Taylor’s characters are also often autobiographical—David and Stacey Logan are based on her grandfather and father.