Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Papa, whose name is David Logan, is usually away, working on the railroad to support his family and their land so that they can maintain their independence. He has a quiet yet authoritative presence. He is a driving force behind the boycott of the Wallaces store, which forces him to face considerable danger.

Papa Quotes in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry quotes below are all either spoken by Papa or refer to Papa. 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

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.

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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 7 Quotes

“Far as I’m concerned, friendship between black and white don’t mean that much ‘cause it usually ain’t on a equal basis. Right now you and Jeremy might get along fine, but in a few years he’ll think of himself as a man but you’ll probably still be a boy to him. And if he feels that way, he’ll turn on you in a minute.”

Related Characters: Papa (speaker)
Page Number: 157
Explanation and Analysis:

Just as T.J.'s manipulative ways prevent an authentic friendship between him and Stacey, Jeremy's unequal status as a white boy prevents a healthy friendship -- as Papa reminds Stacey on Christmas evening, after T.J.'s family has left the Logan house. With this observation, which will hopefully prevent his son from being disappointed or hurt by an unequal friendship, Papa reintroduces the broader social issues into the holiday celebration (after there seemed to be a reprieve, in which Stacey refused to be as influenced from T.J. as he was earlier in the novel). These general issues only resurfaced after other families became involved in the celebration, which provides further support for the concept of familial cohesion.

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

Uncle Hammer put his arm around Papa. “What good’s a car? It can’t grow cotton. You can’t build a home on it. And you can’t raise four fine babies in it.”

Related Characters: Uncle Hammer (speaker), Papa
Related Symbols: Modes of Transportation
Page Number: 236
Explanation and Analysis:

After Uncle Hammer sells his car to support the entire Logan family and help pay the mortgage on the land, he does not seem to begrudge his family for this loss of freedom. He puts his arm around his brother, in a show of familial love, and acknowledges that cars don't give financial stability ("it can't grow cotton"), don't add to a stable home ("you can't build a home on it"), and, lastly and most importantly, don't provide you with familial relationships ("you can't raise four fine babies in it"). Independence is not everything; people, and family, are. With this simple sentence, Uncle Hammer reinforces this novel's view about what is significant in life: maintaining financial well-being, being independent, and loving one's family members.

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Papa Character Timeline in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The timeline below shows where the character Papa 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
...less than thrilled. Stacey, Cassie’s older brother, is especially grumpy about the fact that his mother will be the teacher in his seventh grade class. (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...been mortgaged, and they must pay taxes on the other 200 acres. As a result, Papa has left to work on the railroad; Cassie’s grandma, Big Ma still has to work... (full context)
Chapter 2
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...and her brothers are helping the family pick cotton on the farm when she spots Papa returning home unexpectedly. The family is surprised but happy. It doesn’t seem like anybody was... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Papa makes a comment that sounds random to the children: “In this family, we don’t shop... (full context)
Chapter 4
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Stacey heads for the Wallace store, ignoring Papa’s warnings. The other Logans follow. At the Wallace store, Stacey finds T.J., and they start... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...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 says that she’ll never sell the land to Harlan... (full context)
Chapter 5
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...man who calls Mama and Big Ma “Missus,” and his straightforward manner reminds Cassie of Papa. (full context)
Chapter 7
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
On the day before Christmas, Cassie wakes up to find that Papa has returned for Christmas. In the evening, all the adults tell stories of their past.... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...is indignant. Mama wants to take action against the Wallaces by organizing a boycott, but Papa and Big Ma agree that there’s no way the Logans can back their credit with... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...nuts for the family and a handmade wooden flute for Stacey. Stacey accepts it hesitantly. Papa tells Jeremy that he better go home before his dad starts looking for him, and... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
...say that once the papers are signed, the land will belong to Uncle Hammer and Papa instead of Big Ma, and anything that happens to the land now will have to... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Papa knows that they can’t truly win against the white families, but he says that they... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...Granger arrives at the house. The children all eavesdrop on the conversation from Mama and Papa’s room. Mr. Granger urges them to stop the boycott, threatening that he can make them... (full context)
Chapter 8
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
One day after Uncle Hammer goes back North, Papa has a talk with Cassie in the forest. He explains that there are a lot... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...the textbook. The children walk home with Mama after school that day, and Mama tells Papa, Mr. Morrison, and Big Ma what happened when they arrive. (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...because of the boycott—and she doesn’t know what they’ll do, since they needed that money. Papa says they’ll figure something out, and Mama nods and goes out to walk. Mr. Morrison... (full context)
Chapter 9
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...fun of him. Then Mr. Jamison arrives, but he says he wants to speak to Papa, who’s working in the fields. Mr. Jamison walks over to talk to him, and Mama... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
After school lets out, Papa still hasn’t gone back to the railroad. Cassie hopes that he won’t go back at... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Later in the night, Cassie eavesdrops on her parents and hears that Papa plans to go to Vicksburg the next day. Mama thinks he should wait a while... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
...a sound outside, and Mama runs out to meet the men. Mr. Morrison is carrying Papa in his arms, and he sends Stacey inside first. Mr. Morrison says that the wagon... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...Vicksburg, someone had sabotaged their wagon and the wheels came off. While Mr. Morrison and Papa were trying to fix it, a truck drove up behind them. They didn’t hear the... (full context)
Chapter 10
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
A little over a week later, Papa is finally sitting up out of bed for the first time. Cassie overhears her parents... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...finds them and talks. He tells the Logans that 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.... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...Morrison returns from Strawberry one day with a note that their mortgage is due immediately. Papa goes to Strawberry the next day and finds out that their credit is no longer... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...community together for feasting and celebration. Uncle Hammer shows up on the first day, and Papa goes to greet him. It turns out that Uncle Hammer sold his car to get... (full context)
Chapter 11
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...The Wallaces respond that they’ll do the hanging on the road, and they suggest that Papa and Mr. Morrison be hanged as well. Cassie, Christopher-John, and Little Man run to tell... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family and Community Theme Icon
...get home, the adults are already awake and furious to find the children missing. Before Papa can whip them though, Cassie starts crying and reveals the entire story, starting with the... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...them. He says that everyone’s fighting the fire still: the Simms, Mr. Granger, the Wallaces, Papa, Stacey, everyone. As Jeremy turns to leave, rain starts to fall, and the children cheer. (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...hanging T.J. and instead got everyone to fight the fire. Cassie is suspicious about where Papa was throughout all of this, and she worries that too much of their cotton was... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...to hand T.J. over to Mr. Jamison, and everyone went to put out the fire. Papa and Mr. Morrison arrive home now, followed by Mr. Jamison. Mr. Jamison reports that Mr.... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
Mr. Jamison leaves, and Papa tells Cassie and Stacey that T.J.’s in jail now, awaiting a severe punishment, possibly death.... (full context)