Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Chapter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At home, Stacey tells Cassie not to blame Big Ma for what happened. Stacey says that there are some things Cassie just doesn’t understand, but Cassie is still indignant. Suddenly, they see Mr. Granger’s car in their barn, and they run into the house to see what’s going on. Inside, they see their Uncle Hammer, and he says that the car is actually his—he purchased a newer model of the same car Mr. Granger has.
Cassie doesn’t understand why black people have to back down, so she’s still angry with Big Ma. Stacey, however, has already learned that it’s sometimes necessary to back down in the short term in order to survive, and he tries to explain this to Cassie.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Uncle Hammer asks Cassie about her first trip to Strawberry, but Big Ma tries to interrupt and keep Cassie from telling him about the incident with the Simms. Cassie forges on, however, and tells Uncle Hammer about Mr. Barnett and then the incident with Lillian Jean. Uncle Hammer seems amused that Cassie talked back to Mr. Barnett, but when he hears that Charlie Simms shoved Cassie into the road, he gets extremely angry. Big Ma and Mama try to stop him, but he’s determined to confront Charlie Simms, and he says he has a gun. Mama sends Stacey to find Mr. Morrison. Just as Uncle Hammer starts the car, Mr. Morrison jumps into the passenger side, and they drive off.
Uncle Hammer reacts very strongly to racism because he feels that he’s sacrificed too much for his country fighting in World War II for him or his family to be treated like second-class citizens. Big Ma doesn’t take the same approach Uncle Hammer does, but she defies racism in her own way, by refusing to let Harlan Granger have the land. Both of them are passionate about protecting their family from injustice in their own ways.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Cassie says she hopes that Uncle Hammer will knock some sense into Mr. Simms, but Mama sends her off to bed early. Mama soon follows her into the room, however, and tells her that Big Ma just didn’t want to see her get hurt and didn’t like making Cassie apologize any more than Cassie liked it. Mama explains that some people think that white people are inherently better than black people, and Mr. Simms is one of those people. She says that no one on earth is actually better than anybody else though, no matter what their skin color is. Mama explains how slaves weren’t regarded as people, and even though the Civil War ended slavery, some people still hold the view that black people aren’t equal to whites. People like Mr. Simms believe this because it makes them feel important, and they have nothing else to hold onto.
Mama finally explains some of the day’s events to Cassie, telling her directly that her skin color influences how people think of her and treat her. Mama also explains why Big Ma acted the way she did—it was also to protect Cassie and the rest of the family.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Cassie begins to understand why their skin color causes people to treat them differently. Mama says that true respect is freely given, however; just because Cassie is forced to call Lillian Jean “Miss” doesn’t mean Cassie really respects her. Cassie worries what will happen if Mr. Morrison can’t stop Uncle Hammer from going after Mr. Simms, but Mama just tells her that she’s done enough growing up for one night and assures her that Mr. Morrison will stop Hammer.
Cassie now understands that there are situations where she will be forced to show respect to white people, but like Mama says, it won’t be true respect if it isn’t given freely. Knowing this allows the Logans to maintain their dignity even when they have to defer to white people around them.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
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The next morning, Mr. Morrison and Uncle Hammer are at the table eating breakfast and look like they haven’t slept all night. Mama tells Cassie that Uncle Hammer will be driving everyone to church in his new car, and Cassie gets dressed up with Mama. Afterwards, while the kids are waiting for Uncle Hammer and Big Ma to get ready, Stacey informs the others that nothing happened with Mr. Simms—Mr. Morrison talked to Uncle Hammer all night and prevented him from confronting the Simms. Cassie is disappointed, but Stacey tells her she should be glad—he overheard Big Ma tell Mama that Uncle Hammer could have been killed if he had gone to the Simms.
Cassie still doesn’t completely understand the severity of the situation, however, because she’s disappointed that Hammer didn’t confront Mr. Simms. Stacey, who’s older and has seen more of the injustices in the world, tells her explicitly that someone could have died if Mr. Morrison hadn’t talked to Hammer all night. The family is excited to drive in Hammer’s car, also, because cars usually belong to white people in the book, and it’s a luxury they’re unaccustomed to.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Before the family heads out for church, Uncle Hammer notices the sad state of Stacey’s coat, and he decides to give Stacey his Christmas present early. It turns out to be a new wool coat. It’s a little big, but Mama says Stacey will grow into it. Stacey’s very happy with the present, and they all head to church. When they get there, T.J. makes fun of Stacey’s coat, saying he looks like a fat preacher. Cassie tells Stacey that T.J.’s just jealous, but Stacey still sulks about it later.
The entire Logan family is pleased with Stacey’s new coat, which is the finest coat he’s ever owned. T.J. is an expert at using language to hurt and manipulate others, however, withholding stories to hold his audience captive and insulting Stacey’s new jacket.
Themes
Family and Community Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
After church, Uncle Hammer takes the family for a long ride in his car, driving to Strawberry and back. He pauses by the Wallace store and says he’d like to burn it down, but Big Ma and Mama hush him and tell him there are other ways to get back at the Wallaces. The Logans come across a narrow bridge on their ride back. Only one car can cross at a time, and normally, white families get to cross first. However, Uncle Hammer speeds along and goes over the bridge first. At first, the other family thinks that the car belongs to Mr. Granger, but when they see the Logans, they look shocked. The other family turns out to be the Wallaces. Mama tells Uncle Hammer he shouldn’t have done that—the Logans will have to pay for it later.
Uncle Hammer wants to return racial violence with violence, threatening to burn the Wallace store. However, Big Ma and Mama know that that would only make things worse in a society where white men generally rule over everything. In a humorous scene, the Wallaces think that the Logans—who are in Uncle Hammer’s car—are actually Mr. Granger, but even this funny scene has a dark undertone when Mama says that the Logans will have to pay for it eventually.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon