Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Chapter 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One morning, Big Ma wakes Cassie before dawn and tells her that she and Stacey can accompany her to the market in Strawberry. Cassie’s excited because it’ll be her first time in town. However, once Cassie and Stacey find out that T.J. will be going too, it becomes clear that Big Ma only brought them so that they can occupy T.J. and he won’t just talk Big Ma’s ear off. The Averys asked Big Ma to bring T.J. to the market the night before, since they need him to bring back some groceries. Big Ma’s clearly very grumpy about this, since she doesn’t like T.J.
Although Big Ma clearly thinks that T.J. is a pain, she agrees to help out the Averys because they’re part of the same community.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Cassie is disappointed when they arrive in Strawberry—the town is much more rundown than she imagined. Big Ma pulls their wagon into the back of a marketplace where they set up to sell eggs and milk. Cassie asks why they don’t go towards the front of the marketplace, where other wagons are—she doesn’t think they’ll get much business at this location. But Big Ma just says that the wagons in the front belong to white people.
Cassie doesn’t yet understand that society in general is biased against black people because of their skin color. As a result, she doesn’t see the logic behind Big Ma’s placement of their wagon, and she doesn’t immediately see that everyone at the front of the marketplace is white. Racism is still new to her.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
After they finish at the market, Big Ma stops by Mr. Jamison’s office, and she instructs the children to wait for her while she finishes up some business. Cassie likes Mr. Jamison—he’s the only white man who calls Mama and Big Ma “Missus,” and his straightforward manner reminds Cassie of Papa.
Although society in general is unjust, there are still people who follow their own rules about human dignity. Mr. Jamison, a white lawyer, is one of them. He recognizes that things aren’t fair the way they are, and he’s sympathetic and respectful to the Logans.
Themes
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
T.J. suggests that they go to the country store now, but Stacey says that Big Ma wanted to go with them. T.J. insists that they’d be doing her a favor, since this way, they can order what they need and go home earlier. Besides, T.J. has something he wants to show Stacey. Stacey relents, and the children go on to the Barnett Mercantile, the country store. Inside, T.J. admires a pearl-handled gun. He says he’d sell his life for that gun. Stacey tells T.J. they should go get the things Mrs. Avery asked for, and T.J. hands Mr. Barnett the list. Mr. Barnett begins filling the list, but then he’s interrupted by a white woman who has a list that’s twice as long. This annoys Cassie, but Stacey tells her to be quiet.
It begins to become clear why Big Ma never agreed to bring Cassie into town before. Cassie’s entire morning has been spent learning about the ways in which she’s discriminated against. In this case, she sees that black customers are treated as second-class citizens, and it’s still new enough to her that she gets very angry.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
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When Mr. Barnett is interrupted again by a white child who’s no bigger than Cassie, however, she gets really angry. At first she tries to politely remind Mr. Barnett that they were there first, but when Mr. Barnett completely dismisses her, she loses her temper. Mr. Barnett kicks her out of the store with Stacey. Stacey goes to see what’s keeping Big Ma at Mr. Jamison’s, but Cassie wanders along the sidewalk trying to understand what just happened. As she’s walking, she accidentally bumps into Lillian Jean Simms, who demands that Cassie apologize for running into her. Cassie apologizes, but it’s not enough for Lillian Jean, who wants Cassie to get down into the road. When Cassie refuses, Lillian Jean’s father, Charlie Simms grabs her and throws her down into the road. Cassie starts to run away, but then Big Ma appears and forces her to apologize.
Cassie gets an even worse lesson in racism—not only are black people treated as second-class citizens in shops, but there are those who feel the need to control and knock down black people as if they’re sub-human. Even worse, Big Ma forces Cassie to apologize because Big Ma is afraid of escalating the situation. She doesn’t want her granddaughter to get hurt, even is Cassie is right to be angry.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon