The weather becomes rainier, making the walk to school muddier and tougher for the black children. The white school bus driver, however, purposefully tries to splash the Logan children on their walk to school. Little Man is especially upset because he’s so meticulous and clean, but Mama explains that the county doesn’t provide much for its black students—most of the money supporting the black schools comes from black churches, and their church cannot afford a bus.
The white bus driver goes out of his way to splash the black children, and it isn’t until Little Man asks Mama directly about the bus situation that she explains why only the white children have a bus. This is just one instance where one of the Logan children has to learn about societal inequality amongst whites and blacks.
One particularly rainy, miserable day, the children are walking to school, and they think that they hear the bus behind them. They climb onto the bank, but it turns out it’s just Harlan Granger’s car going past—Stacey suggests waiting for the bus to pass as well, since they’re already on the bank, and it will be difficult to get away farther up the road. T.J. convinces them that they should just keep walking so that they can get to school and get out of the rain. Once they start walking though, the school bus comes and narrowly misses hitting the Logans and T.J., who attempt to jump into the bank. However, they all miss and end up in the muddy gully instead. Stacey, furious, promises Little Man that this won’t happen again, at least not for a long time.
The bus driver not only tries to splash the Logans, but he narrowly misses hitting them. Stacey and Little Man are so furious about this injustice that Stacey actually formulates his own plan to deal with the bus—it’s his way of maintaining his dignity even though he’s the target of social injustice. Appropriately, it’s the miserable weather that causes the bus driver to drive the Logans into a muddy gully and makes Stacey formulate a plan—stormy and rainy weather often signals a turning point in this book.
Jeremy Simms sees the Logans coming and tries to greet them, but Stacey takes his anger out on him. Jeremy stammers that he likes the Logans, but they all ignore him. Cassie realizes that Jeremy never rides the bus either, no matter how bad the weather is.
It’s hard for Jeremy and Stacey to be friends, no matter how hard Jeremy might try, because there are too many surrounding factors that force them apart—like society’s racism in general. However, Cassie sees that Jeremy doesn’t necessarily take advantage of his privilege when he recognizes that it’s hurting others, and she respects that.
Stacey tells his siblings to meet him at the toolshed at noon, as he has a plan to make the bus stop splashing them. He doesn’t include T.J. or Claude though, since he doesn’t trust them to keep quiet. At lunchtime, the Logans grab shovels and buckets from the toolshed and head to the spot where the bus forced them off the road in the morning. They dig a huge ditch, making it look as though the rain washed away the road. After school, they run and hide near the ditch in order to see what happens. Sure enough, the bus gets stuck and the white kids have to walk to and from school for the next two weeks as the bus gets repairs done.
The Logans enact their own form of justice, allowing them to maintain some of their dignity in the face of blatant racist bullying. Revealingly, Stacey only includes his siblings in the plan. Even though T.J. is his friend, Stacey recognizes that he can only be entirely sure of his family.
At home, Mama tells Big Ma about the bus incident. She’s glad no one was hurt, but she admits that she’s glad it happened. The entire family begins to laugh. The Logan children continue to giggle throughout the evening, unable to hold in their laughter and triumph. Mama separates them so that they can complete their assignments for school.
Mama and Big Ma are happy about the bus incident because they know how unfair it had been for the bus to drive the Logan children out of the road. This is just one more example of how tightly knit the Logan family is, and how much they support each other.
Someone knocks on the door, and Mama answers it to see Joe Avery, looking very nervous. He warns them that “They’s ridin’ t’night.” Mama and Big Ma look scared and send the children to bed, despite the children’s protests. Cassie sneaks into the boys’ room so that she can eavesdrop on the conversation with them. They hear that the “night men” are riding. One of the men Mr. Avery mentions is the white school’s bus driver, which convinces Cassie that the night men are coming after the Logans. Stacey tells the rest of them that they can’t ever tell anybody else about the bus incident.
One of the ways in which language goes wrong throughout the book is through eavesdropping. Cassie often overhears or eavesdrops on adult conversations, and sometimes she doesn’t completely understand what’s being discussed. In this instance, for example, she believes that the night men are after the Logans. The “night men” also likely refer to a group that’s very similar to the Ku Klux Klan.
Cassie returns to her room and pretends to sleep as Big Ma enters the room. Big Ma starts searching for something under the bed, and Cassie hears Stacey ask Mama if he can help with whatever’s the matter. Mama thanks Stacey but sends him back to bed. Big Ma soon joins Mama in the room outside, and she brings a rifle with her. Later, Big Ma returns and sits in the chair by the window. Cassie falls asleep and when she wakes again, Big Ma is gone. Cassie hears a noise on the porch and goes to investigate, but she falls off the porch. She sees a couple cars pull up onto their driveway, and she freezes, terrified. However, it looks as if they have the wrong house, and they pull out of the driveway again and leave. Cassie goes back to bed.
Big Ma and Mama stay up for a while in order to protect the family—Big Ma even takes out her rifle. Stacey also volunteers to help, and Cassie stays up because she’s worried. The entire family cares about each other’s wellbeing.