Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Modes of Transportation Symbol Analysis

Modes of Transportation Symbol Icon
Cars and buses, like land, represent power and autonomy. Harlan Granger's car, for example, demonstrates that he has money. It also shows that he’s in control of his own transportation, unlike black landowners such as Mama who have to walk. Similarly, white children get to ride the school bus to school, while black children have to walk, no matter how far they live. Racist white characters also react badly to the black people who drive throughout the book—first to the Berrys and then to Uncle Hammer, seeing a threat in black people who seem to be gaining in power and self-reliance.

Modes of Transportation Quotes in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry quotes below all refer to the symbol of Modes of Transportation. 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

[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.

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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 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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Modes of Transportation Symbol Timeline in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The timeline below shows where the symbol Modes of Transportation 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
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...reluctant to scramble up the bank and get his clothes dirty, but when the school bus drives by and raises the red dust, Little Man ends up getting dirtier than the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...making the walk to school muddier and tougher for the black children. The white school bus driver, however, purposefully tries to splash the Logan children on their walk to school. Little... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...miserable day, the children are walking to school, and they think that they hear the bus behind them. They climb onto the bank, but it turns out it’s just Harlan Granger’s... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...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)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...meet him at the toolshed at noon, as he has a plan to make the bus stop splashing them. He doesn’t include T.J. or Claude though, since he doesn’t trust them... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
...looking very nervous. He warns them that “They’s ridin’ t’night.” Mama and Big Ma look scared and send the children to bed, despite the children’s protests. Cassie sneaks into the boys’... (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
...porch and goes to investigate, but she falls off the porch. She sees a couple cars pull up onto their driveway, and she freezes, terrified. However, it looks as if they... (full context)
Chapter 4
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Storytelling and Language Theme Icon
As the Logan children and Mr. Morrison approach the house, Mr. Granger’s Packard pulls out of the driveway. Big Ma says that Mr. Granger is trying to get... (full context)
Chapter 6
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...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,... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...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. (full context)
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity 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... (full context)
Chapter 9
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...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 truck because of the rain, and then... (full context)
Chapter 10
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...Morrison are heading back home. However, they run into Kaleb Wallace, who uses his pickup truck to block the road. He threatens Mr. Morrison for what happened to his brothers. Mr.... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...day, and Papa goes to greet him. It turns out that Uncle Hammer sold his car to get the money for the mortgage, which he’s brought with him. He heads back... (full context)
Chapter 11
Racism Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...that’s when R.W. and Melvin beat him up, leaving him in the back of their truck. T.J. managed to get a ride from a farmer later on, and he ended up... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
As soon as T.J. slips into his bedroom window, however, several cars drive up. The cars belong to the Simms, the Wallaces, and several other white men.... (full context)
Chapter 12
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...happened. Stacey says that Mr. Jamison tried to stop the Wallaces, but they pushed his car off the road They were about to take off with T.J. when the smoke started.... (full context)