Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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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.

Finally T.J. said, “Okay. See, them Berrys’ burnin’ wasn’t no accident. Some white men took a match to ‘em.”

Related Characters: T.J. Avery (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

The four siblings' walk begins rather peacefully; the tensions between the children are only manifested in irritated words, never in physical conflict. Stacey's friend T.J., with his own younger sibling Claude, soon infringe on this familial conversation, however, when they appear in the road and join them. T.J. seems to relish his position as the source of information, as he tells the Logan children that white men burned the Berrys. The adults in the Logan family had not told their children about this horrific incident, so T.J. is responsible for inserting this anecdote, and introducing the broader themes about violence and racial prejudice into the narrative's opening.

[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.

“In the first place no one cares enough to come down here, and in the second place if anyone should come, maybe he could see all the things we need—current books for all of our subjects, not just somebody’s old throwaways, desks, paper, blackboards, erasers, maps, chalk…”

Related Characters: Mama (speaker)
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

After the first day of school ends, Cassie finds her mother discussing the state of the school's books with Cassie's teacher, Miss Crocker. Miss Crocker is willing to accept the pitiful condition of these books, which the school is only allowed to borrow from the county's superintendent office, but Mama is rightfully disturbed enough to glue together the pages of books meant for her classroom. When Miss Crocker protests that an employee of the superintendent could inflict punishment on Mama or the school in response to this, Mama laughs off this concern; no one comes from the county because "no one cares" about this school for black children. And that would be the least of this school's worries; it lacks "all the things" needed for a proper education -- "desks, paper, blackboards, erasers, maps, chalk..." This response, and this scene, demonstrates how Mama is unafraid of voicing the truth about the circumstances which she and her family face. She does not accept the situations which threaten to undermine her dignity. 

Chapter 2 Quotes

“Did the other men get fired?”
“No, ma’am,” answered Mr. Morrison. “They was white.”

Related Characters: Mama (speaker), L.T. Morrison (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:

Papa returns with Mr. Morrison, a black man who was fired from his job for fighting with other men. When Mama briefly questions Mr. Morrison, likely to quickly ascertain his character before granting him the ability to stay in her home as a hired helper, she asks him who was responsible for starting that fight. Mr. Morrison replies that the white men initiated the engagement. As the conversation continues Mr. Morrison also reveals that these men weren't fired--because they were white. Brief instances such as these reveal the ways that racism is implicit and assumed in this society. It creates unfair, yet undeniable, customs which adults acknowledge without words.

“These folks getting’ so bad in here. Heard tell they lynched a boy a few days ago at Crosston.”

“And ain’t a thing gonna be done ‘bout it,” said Mr. Lanier. “That’s what’s so terrible! When Henrietta went to the sheriff and told him what she’d seed, he called her a liar and sent her on home. Now I hear tells that some of them men that done it been ‘round braggin’ ‘bout it. Sayin’ they’d do it again if some other uppity nigger get out of line.”

Related Characters: Mr. Avery (speaker), Mr. Lanier (speaker)
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
After Church services on Sunday, Cassie's community congregates in support of the Berry's family, and individuals discuss the horrific nature of recent events. For instance, Henrietta Toggins, who was with John Henry and the Beacon on the day they were burned, supposedly witnessed drunk and unstable white men threaten the Berrys earlier in the day. The police refused to believe her story, however, which makes the story of the Berrys' death even more tragic and unjust. Black individuals may be thus inappropriately accused of lying and deprived of the dignity associated with speech. They do not only experience terrible crimes, but they can only discuss these occurrences among themselves, lest they be even further mistreated. 

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.   

“Friends gotta trust each other, Stacey, ‘cause ain’t nothin’ like a true friend.” And with those words of wisdom he left the room, leaving us to wonder how he had managed to slink out of this one.

Related Characters: T.J. Avery (speaker), Stacey Logan
Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:

After the Logan children find T.J. snooping in Mama's room, instead of looking for his cap as he claimed he would be, T.J. claims that he was not looking for the answers to an exam Mama is about to give her class. T.J.'s claim seems dubious; he was, earlier, asking Stacey to find these answer sheets in Mama's materials. Yet the Logan children do not confront T.J. about this incident. T.J. wanders away, after delivering these likely empty words about the importance of friends trusting each other. T.J.'s words, despite their sheen of sentiment, underscore the tenuous and dangerous nature of friendships in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Indeed, friends like T.J. are not to be believed at all.

“Sometimes a person’s gotta fight,” he said slowly. “But that store ain’t the place to be doing it. From what I hear, folks like them Wallaces got no respect at all for colored folks and they just think it’s funny when we fight each other. You mama knowed them Wallaces ain’t good folks, that’s why she don’t want y’all down there, and y’all owe it to her and y’allselves to tell her. But I’m gonna leave it up to y’all to decide.”

Related Characters: L.T. Morrison (speaker), Stacey Logan, Mama, The Wallaces
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

After Mr. Morrison catches the Logan children observing Stacey fight T.J. at the Wallace store, a place which Papa has forbidden, Mr. Morrison delivers a powerful lesson. He admits that combat can be necessary in confrontation, and in the face of particularly hostile or overpowering circumstances, "sometimes a person's gotta fight." In addition to this general teaching, though, he specifically disciplines the children for going to the Wallace store. Mr. Morrison does not merely support the previously established rule, but he also explains its purpose; the Wallaces are morally questionable and they openly disrespect black individuals. 

Mr. Morrison also indirectly provides a foil to T.J.'s secrecy, when he explains that he will make the Logan children themselves tell Mama about their journey to the Wallace store. Through his actions, he advocates for honest language and forthcoming behavior, providing yet another way that the Logans can strive to differentiate themselves from secrecy, which so often co-exists alongside racial prejudices and violent acts.

“…Y’all got it better’n most the folks ‘round here ‘cause y’all gots your own place and y’all ain’t gotta cowtail to a lot of this stuff. But you gotta understand it ain’t easy for sharecroppin’ folks to do what you askin’.”

Related Characters: Mr. Turner (speaker)
Related Symbols: Land
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Mama visits the Turner household to encourage them to join in her boycott of the Wallace store, and instead shop at other locations such as Vicksburg. Mr. Turner claims that he sympathizes with her sentiments but is unable to join in the movement, because he can only buy items through credit, at the Wallace's store. Mr. Turner introduces a solemn notion into the novel: the Logans are only able to act based on their moral principles and aspirations because they are more financially secure than the share-cropping families which live nearby. This supports the ever-present concept that the Logans' land gives them unusual and extraordinary liberty, and also implies an unfortunate association between one's financial circumstance and one's ability to change the social systems at play in Mississippi.

Chapter 7 Quotes

In quiet anger she glared at Stacey and admonished, “In this house we do not give away what loved ones give to us. Now go bring me that coat.”

Related Characters: Mama (speaker)
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:

Mama asks Stacey to bring her his coat, so that she can let the sleeves up and fix it so it fits him better, but Stacey admits that he gave the coat to T.J. After Stacey stutters and gives various reasons why T.J. convinced him to give away his coat, Mama gets quite angry that Stacey willingly gave away such a possession and allowed himself to be so manipulated. She chides Stacey that her family members do not "give away what loved ones give to us" -- they do not place others (who are often only looking out for their own interests, as Uncle Hammer reminds everyone) in higher importance than their own family. Of course, the Logans participate in their surrounding community -- the boycott which they lead is meant to improve the lots of all black people living nearby -- but their primary responsibility is always to their own relatives, the more intimate community which will last over time. 

“Then if you want something and it’s a good thing and you got it in the right way, you better hang on to it and don’t let nobody talk you out of it. You care what a lot of useless people say ‘bout you you’ll never get anywhere, ‘cause there’s a lotta folks don’t want you to make it. You understand what I’m telling you?”

Related Characters: Uncle Hammer (speaker)
Page Number: 143
Explanation and Analysis:

As Uncle Hammer lectures Stacey about Stacey's mistake of letting T.J. coerce him into handing over his fine coat, Hammer uses the case of the two schoolchildren to impart a larger lesson. T.J. may be a child, but he is like many adults in their community who are self-centered and constantly taking from the other families and individuals around them. Hammer reminds all of the children present that they should maintain good morals, only acquiring property in honest ways because of hard work, and not allow others with looser morals to take away the benefits of their success. Hammer alludes to the unfortunate reality that many individuals do not wish others to succeed; indeed, this impulse is one of the biggest reasons for the racial inequality that affects the entire novel. 

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.

“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

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.

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.

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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