Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Cassie Logan Character Analysis

Cassie, who attends fourth grade at a black school in the South, narrates the story in first person. Through her eyes, the reader sees the injustices of racism firsthand. Cassie has a short temper and has trouble keeping her thoughts to herself, which sometimes gets her and her family into trouble.

Cassie Logan Quotes in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry quotes below are all either spoken by Cassie Logan or refer to Cassie Logan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Puffin Books edition of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry published in 1991.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“Shoot,” I mumbled finally, unable to restrain myself from further comment, “it ain’t my fault you gotta be in Mama’s class this year.”

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker), Stacey Logan, Mama
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel opens on an October morning in Mississippi, Cassie walks to her first day of school along with her brothers Stacey, Christopher-John, and Little Man (Clayton Chester). Stacey responds to Cassie’s frustration with Little Man’s fastidious ways with irritation of his own, and Cassie attributes Stacey’s foul mood to the fact that he will be in his mother’s schoolroom this year. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry thus begins with a relatively benign issue surrounding family and education: a son is embarrassed to be in his mother’s classroom. Yet, as the narrative continues, the specific lessons which Mama teaches will engage with the broader social issues that circumscribe the novel, and far more difficult situations related to family, independence, and duty will arise.

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Once our land had been Granger land too, but the Grangers had sold it during Reconstruction to a Yankee for tax money. In 1887, when the land was up for sell again, Grandpa had bought two hundred acres of it, and in 1918, after the first two hundred acres had been paid off, he had bought another two hundred…But there was a mortgage on the two hundred acres bought in 1918 and there were taxes on the full four hundred, and for the past three years there had not been enough money from the cotton to pay both and live on too.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker), Harlan Granger
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

While they walk on the dusty road, Cassie and her brothers are surrounded by woods and fields – the sort of land which is so precious to her family. It is significant that Cassie, at the age of nine, knows the particular years that her grandfather bought their land and is familiar with her family’s current financial difficulties (the mortgage and the taxes); this underscores how the Logan land is important to the entire family, not just to the adults. The land is a source of freedom (for it gives the family financial independence) and constraint (because it unifies family members together, ensuring that they all work in pursuit of the same goal, even if they must travel as Cassie’s father does).

I asked him once why he had to go away, why the land was so important. He took my hand and said in his quiet way: “Look out there, Cassie girl. All that belongs to you. You ain’t never had to live on nobody’s place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to. That’s important. You may not understand that now, but one day you will. Then you’ll see.”

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker), Papa (speaker)
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel is set in 1933, when share-cropping was a common practice and former slave families often did not own the land of they labored on. In this setting, it is unusual that the Logans own their own land, and it is difficult for them to maintain this ownership in the face of a hostile, greedy white populace. Yet, by devoting themselves to maintaining their land, they can exert an unusual amount of influence on their own lives, and can begin to break free from the social and cultural heritage of slavery. As an adult, Cassie's father recognizes this; he understands the implications of land ownership on his family's relationship to the past and future. Cassie cannot as deeply grasp this significance, but she remembers the strength of her father's conviction as he once alluded to it. This suggests how the beliefs tied to property, as well as the property itself, can be inherited through generations.

[Little Man] ran frantically along the road looking for a foothold and, finding one, hopped onto the bank, but not before the bus had sped past enveloping him in a scarlet haze while laughing white faces pressed against the bus windows.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker), Little Man
Related Symbols: Modes of Transportation
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

The novel opened with Cassie encouraging her brother to move more quickly, and Little Man refusing to do so, afraid that he might dirty his clothes on the first day of his first year of school. Little Man kept fastidiously moving slowly along the dusty and dirty road, attempting to keep his Sunday clothes clean -- until the white children's schoolbus foils all of his efforts, in the moment that it rushes by. This small, seemingly innocent incidence represents the core struggle of the novel: the structures which benefit white society prevent African Americans from maintaining their property. Yet, Little Man is still naive about this reality; he even asks his older sister why only white children have a schoolbus. This suggests that the effects of racism penetrate one's earliest days, although consciousness of these issues may only arise when one is older and able to articulate his or her losses of dignity.

The Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School, one of the largest black schools in the county, was a dismal end to an hour’s journey. Consisting of four weather-beaten wooden houses on stilts of brick, 320 students, seven teachers, a principal, a caretaker, and the caretaker’s cow, which kept the wide crabgrass lawn sufficiently clipped in spring and summer, the school was located near three plantations, the largest and closest by far being the Granger plantation.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker)
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:

After Cassie passes and details the appearance of the Jefferson Davis County School, the local school for white children, she illustrates her displeasure with her own Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School, a "dismal end to an hour's journey." She describes her school in direct comparison to the white children's school -- one lawn is "crabgrass" that is only "sufficiently clipped," while the other lawn has a "wide sports field"; one is a "long white wooden building looming," while another is merely "four weather-beaten wooden houses on stilts of brick." The nature of these descriptions suggests Cassie's acute awareness that the circumstances of white and African American children should be directly compared; they are fundamentally unequal, and the extreme nature of this inequality is perhaps best represented by these stark differences, which Cassie describes but does not explain.

Chapter 2 Quotes

Papa sat very quietly while the Laniers and the Averys talked, studying them with serious eyes. Finally, he took the pipe from his mouth and made a statement that seemed to the boys and me to be totally disconnected with the conversation. “In this family, we don’t shop at the Wallace store.”

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker), Papa (speaker), The Wallaces, Mr. Avery, Mr. Lanier
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

The Laniers and the Averys discuss how the police refused to believe Henrietta's testimony and, according to Mr. Lanier, "ain't a thing gonna be done 'bout it" or about the Berrys burning. In a seemingly disjointed but clearly serious response, Papa says that his family will avoid shopping at the Wallace store. This statement does not make sense to his children -- Papa does not directly accuse the Wallaces of being culpable for burning the Berrys and instill fear in the children present -- but it indirectly implicates the Wallaces with murdering the Berrys. It also suggests that perhaps the community can indeed respond to recent events; by boycotting the Wallace's store, they can use their financial independence to make a clear statement against the Wallaces' crimes. 

Chapter 3 Quotes

By the end of October the rain had come, falling heavily upon the six-inch layer of dust which had had its own way for more than two months. At first the rain had merely splotched the dust, which seemed to be rejoicing in its own resiliency…but eventually the dust was forced to surrender to the mastery of the rain and it churned into a fine red mud that oozed between our toes and slopped against our ankles as we marched miserably to and from school.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker)
Related Symbols: Weather, Modes of Transportation
Page Number: 42
Explanation and Analysis:

For this aptly titled narrative, the circumstances of weather often symbolize social situations. The dust that clings to Little Man's shoes represents the customs and laws that restrict the black community's progress, and the rain that begins to pour as autumn continues represents the social difficulties that intensify as they develop over time. The everyday plight of the Logan schoolchildren directly stems from prejudice; they only struggle in these weather conditions because black schoolchildren cannot receive a bus and the white bus driver enjoys threatening to splash the children with rain and mud. Yet, it also symbolizes the more enduring and problematic challenges which racism presents to adults.  

Knowing that the bus driver liked to entertain his passengers by sending us slipping along the road to the almost inaccessible forest banks washed to a smooth baldness…we consequently found ourselves comical objects to cruel eyes that gave no thought to our misery.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker)
Related Symbols: Modes of Transportation
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

The schoolbus filled with white children often veere dangerously close to the Logan children as it passee them on the road, forcing them to climb the slippery slopes along the edge of the road. The driver intentionally movee the bus this way every morning because the white schoolchildren delight in observing the Logan children struggle. The white children watch the Logans' struggles, but they do not truly see them. They did not attempt to truly consider how the Logan children are feeling; instead, they laugh. From their position of privilege, the white children do not need to understand the Logans' perspective; they have far greater mobility, in both the figurative as well as literal sense.

“Well, he don’t and you don’t,” Big Ma said, getting up. “So ain’t no use frettin’ ‘bout it. One day you’ll have a plenty of clothes and maybe even a car of yo’ own to ride ‘round in, so don’t you pay no mind to them ignorant white folks.”

Related Characters: Big Ma (speaker), Cassie Logan, Stacey Logan
Related Symbols: Modes of Transportation
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

When Little Man returns from school one day, he complains to Big Ma about the soiled state of his clothes, and she exhibits her no-nonsense refusal to coddle her grandchildren, as well as her reliance on hope. She firmly but gently tells Little Man to "pay no mind" to the "ignorant" white individuals who dirty his clothes; she inspires him to instead look towards the future, telling him that "one day" he will have "plenty of clothes." Although Big Ma might not be able to have such hope for herself, she hopes that her grandchildren will have more than they all have now. They may even have additional freedoms that are more difficult to attain than possessions -- like the independence which a car symbolizes. 

Chapter 4 Quotes

“See, fellows, there’s a system to getting out of work,” T.J. was expounding as I sat down. “Jus’ don’t be ‘round when it’s got to be done. Only thing is, you can’t let your folks know that’s what you’re doin’.”

Related Characters: T.J. Avery (speaker), Cassie Logan
Page Number: 72
Explanation and Analysis:

The Logan children sit around their home's fire, barely listening to T.J. as he lectures about the ways he manipulates and deceives his family members in order to avoid helping with their work and chores. The Logan children do not engage in such activity; in fact, Cassie has just been helping her mother and grandmother churn butter. T.J. serves as a foil to individual members of the Logan family, who collectively work together on the chores involved with maintaining their home and their land. T.J.'s lies are an example of everyday secrets and childish misbehavior, more mundane versions of the secrets surrounding the murders and whippings and tarrings in the local Mississippi community.   

Chapter 7 Quotes

And in the fireplace itself, in a black pan set on a high wire rack, peanuts roasted over the hickory fire as the waning light of day swiftly deepened into a fine velvet night speckled with white forerunners of a coming snow, and the warm sound of husky voices and rising laughter mingled in tales of sorrow and happiness and days past but not forgotten.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker)
Related Symbols: Weather
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

On Christmas evening, as the Logan family gathers, the reader is able to witness the reason that these characters are so devoted to taking care of their land; it is these intimate family moments, of telling shared stories in comfort and even prosperity, that make their work worthwhile. The narrator's decadent description -- which slowly goes over the scene's rich collection of food and decorations, and the room's pleasant fireplace -- makes this scene an instance of rare abundance. The Logans seem to have enough. It is significant that this description ends by alluding to their narratives -- the "tales of sorrow and happiness and days past but not forgotten" -- this informal education unites the Logan family, and celebrates the history that is so often silenced in schools. Here, in these evening of bounty, they can be expressed and given primary importance.

Chapter 9 Quotes

“You see that fig tree over yonder, Cassie? Them other trees all around…that oak and walnut, they’re a lot bigger and they take up more room and give so much shade they almost overshadow that little ole fig. But that fig’s got roots that run deep, and it belongs in that yard as much as that oak and walnut…It don’t give up. It give up, it’ll die. There’s a lesson to be learned from that little tree, Cassie girl, ‘cause we’re like it. We keep doing what we gotta, and we don’t give up. We can’t.”

Related Characters: Papa (speaker), Cassie Logan
Page Number: 205
Explanation and Analysis:

Mr. Avery and Mr. Lanier visit and inform the Logans that they cannot participate in the boycott any longer, because they have been threatened with a chain gang. Stacey immediately explodes in anger about them acting "like a bunch of scared jackrabbits," but Papa strives to make his children understand that the Logans' relative financial stability is a gift that other families cannot enjoy. Yet, at the same time, the Logans are like a "fig tree" -- a type of tree which has rich Biblical symbolism. The Logans' symbolic tree may not be as tall and mighty as others (the oak and the walnut), but it is deeply rooted; the Logans may not be able to immediately change their social circumstances, as much as they wished to with the boycott, but they remain determined to improve the lot of black individuals in Mississippi and will keep striving despite this immediate setback. "We keep doing what we gotta," Papa says, like that "little tree." 

Chapter 10 Quotes

Mr. Morrison lowered his eyes and looked around the room until his gaze rested on the boys and me. “I ain’t ever had no children of my own. I think sometimes if I had, I’d’ve wanted a son and daughter just like you and Mr. Logan…and grandbabies like these babies of yours…”

Related Characters: L.T. Morrison (speaker), Cassie Logan, Stacey Logan, Little Man, Christopher-John Logan, L.T. Morrison
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:
Kaleb Wallace attempts to use his truck to block Mr. Morrison, as Morrison drives the wagon back to the Logans' house after helping the neighbor Mr. Wiggins sow seeds one day. After Morrison physically moves the Wallaces' truck and begins to depart, Wallace threatens to kills Morrison. Once Mama hears this story, she fears that Morrison will be killed because of his association with her family, and she seems about to ask him to leave them. Desperately, Mr. Morrison asks to stay, and he even reveals that he always wanted children like the Logan children. This scene does not only emphasize Morrison's admirable strength and devotion to the Logan family; it also suggests that Morrison has stayed with the family for much of the narrative because he personally needs to. Even individuals without children of their own might be moved to focus their lives around familial sentiment and dedication; in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, these intimate bonds trump all else.
Chapter 12 Quotes

What had happened to T.J. in the night I did not understand, but I knew that it would not pass. And I cried for those things which had happened in the night and would not pass.
I cried for T.J. For T.J. and the land.

Related Characters: Cassie Logan (speaker), T.J. Avery
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 276
Explanation and Analysis:

These chilling last sentences of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry fittingly end with "the land," which simultaneously is the background setting of the novel and the fundamental feature which orders the characters' lives and the events of the narrative. As Cassie lies on her bed and the novel closes, she does not know what will happen to T.J., who awaits more word about his fate from his position in jail. T.J. -- the character who has advocated deception and secrecy throughout the narrative -- is now experiencing a terrible state of not knowing crucial information (whether he will live or die). This is a bitter sort of irony. 

Yet, it is in a way unsurprising that Cassie does not know T.J.'s fate. One of the novel's themes is the tendency for children to be uninformed about the future, or to not fully comprehend the forces surrounding them. Children are by their nature ignorant of the social circumstances which constrain them. They are in this way temporarily saved from knowledge, from having to daily choose to ignore their own dignity or to fight for it, as they continue to fight for the land that is already theirs. 

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Cassie Logan Character Timeline in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The timeline below shows where the character Cassie Logan appears in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
It’s 1933, and the Logans are walking to class on their first day of school. Cassie tries to get her younger brother Little Man to walk faster, but he doesn’t want... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
A long time ago, Cassie’s grandfather purchased 400 acres of land from Harlan Granger’s family, which allows the Logan family... (full context)
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The Logans—other than Stacey—don’t like T.J. very much. He reveals that Cassie almost got him in trouble by telling his mother that he had gone to the... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...kids drop out of school entirely in order to help their parents work the fields. Cassie observes the students around her, who are wearing their Sunday best, even though all their... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
Cassie heads into the fourth grade classroom, which the fourth graders currently share with the first... (full context)
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...and sees what’s written inside, he throws his book down and begins stomping on it. Cassie flips open her own copy and sees that there’s a record of who the book... (full context)
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Cassie tries to explain to Miss Crocker that Little Man is upset because of the chart,... (full context)
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Cassie tries to tell her mother about the incident when class lets out, but Miss Crocker... (full context)
Chapter 2
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Cassie and her brothers are helping the family pick cotton on the farm when she spots... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...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. (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
...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.... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Cassie returns to her room and pretends to sleep as Big Ma enters the room. Big... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Cassie is helping Big Ma churn butter one morning, and she overhears Big Ma and Mama... (full context)
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Cassie and her younger brothers, Christopher-John and Little Man, take to Mr. Morrison immediately, asking Mama... (full context)
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...the paper, he rips the answers in half. When school lets out for the day, Cassie and her brothers wait for Stacey and T.J. to come out of the classroom. Suddenly,... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
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Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...fight. However, before the fight gets very serious, Mr. Morrison appears and breaks it up. Cassie explains the situation to Mr. Morrison on the way home, and Mr. Morrison says that... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
...the Logan land back again. Big Ma walks to the forest across the road, and Cassie follows her to a clearing where many of the trees were cut down by white... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Big Ma also talks about having six children with Cassie’s grandfather, but only two are still alive: Cassie’s dad and her Uncle Hammer. Big Ma... (full context)
Chapter 5
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One morning, Big Ma wakes Cassie before dawn and tells her that she and Stacey can accompany her to the market... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
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Cassie is disappointed when they arrive in Strawberry—the town is much more rundown than she imagined.... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 6
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At home, Stacey tells Cassie not to blame Big Ma for what happened. Stacey says that there are some things... (full context)
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Uncle Hammer asks Cassie about her first trip to Strawberry, but Big Ma tries to interrupt and keep Cassie... (full context)
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Cassie says she hopes that Uncle Hammer will knock some sense into Mr. Simms, but Mama... (full context)
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Cassie begins to understand why their skin color causes people to treat them differently. Mama says... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Chapter 7
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...let them. Meanwhile, T.J. has been bragging about his new coat all the time, and Cassie is sick of it. She decides to take revenge on T.J. and on Lillian Jean,... (full context)
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On the day before Christmas, Cassie wakes up to find that Papa has returned for Christmas. In the evening, all the... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Cassie has trouble sleeping after hearing this story, and she wakes up in the middle of... (full context)
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...home before his dad starts looking for him, and Jeremy agrees and starts to leave. Cassie wishes him a merry Christmas before he goes, and Jeremy seems pleased. Afterwards, T.J. tells... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
...to the Wallace store. Then the men go to Vicksburg on mysterious business—Mama won’t tell Cassie why—and when they return, Mr. Jamison comes over. He brings a fruitcake and lemon drops... (full context)
Chapter 8
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Cassie finds Lillian Jean on the walk to school and offers to carry her books for... (full context)
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One day after Uncle Hammer goes back North, Papa has a talk with Cassie in the forest. He explains that there are a lot of things she’ll have to... (full context)
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For the entire month, Cassie acts like Lillian Jean’s slave, carrying her books and absorbing the gossip Lillian Jean tells... (full context)
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When Lillian Jean gets there, Cassie takes her books and tells her that she has a surprise for Lillian Jean in... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...brothers, Kaleb Wallace, and Mr. Granger show up at school to talk to the principal. Cassie sees them arrive through the window and tells her teacher that she has to go... (full context)
Chapter 9
Racism Theme Icon
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...Stacey finds it a little shocking that a person wouldn’t like his own kin, but Cassie says she doesn’t blame him—she doesn’t like the other Simms either. Jeremy reveals that his... (full context)
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Cassie asks Mama later why the older Simms boys hang around T.J., and Mama says that... (full context)
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After school lets out, Papa still hasn’t gone back to the railroad. Cassie hopes that he won’t go back at all, but on the following Sunday, Papa says... (full context)
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Later in the night, Cassie eavesdrops on her parents and hears that Papa plans to go to Vicksburg the next... (full context)
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...as scheduled, and the entire family gets worried. Mama sends the children to bed, but Cassie gets up later and watches as Mama and Big Ma wait for the men. Mama... (full context)
Chapter 10
Racism Theme Icon
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...a week later, Papa is finally sitting up out of bed for the first time. Cassie overhears her parents talking about the family’s finances—they’re going to have to stretch what they... (full context)
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Cassie hears Mr. Morrison coming up the drive and runs out to meet him. He says... (full context)
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...some people in town are glad Papa’s still hurt and can’t work at the railroad. Cassie is furious. Jeremy reports that T.J. is still hanging out with his older brothers too,... (full context)
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...to talk to his old friends, but everyone ignores him, and they head to service. Cassie looks back as she walks away, and she almost feels sorry for T.J. because he... (full context)
Chapter 11
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Cassie is in bed, listening to Mr. Morrison singing a spiritual that begins with “Roll of... (full context)
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...on the road, and they suggest that Papa and Mr. Morrison be hanged as well. Cassie, Christopher-John, and Little Man run to tell Papa while Stacey watches to see where the... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family and Community Theme Icon
When Cassie and her brothers get home, the adults are already awake and furious to find the... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
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Soon, Big Ma, Mama, Cassie and her brothers smell fire. The land and the cotton are burning, and Big Ma... (full context)
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Cassie and Little Man go out to survey the damage at dawn, but Christopher-John refuses to... (full context)
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Before they go to bed, Cassie asks Stacey about what happened. Stacey says that Mr. Jamison tried to stop the Wallaces,... (full context)
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Mr. Jamison leaves, and Papa tells Cassie and Stacey that T.J.’s in jail now, awaiting a severe punishment, possibly death. Stacey runs... (full context)