Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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Weather Symbol Icon
Weather, especially thunder, often plays a symbolic role in the book, drawing attention during important scenes and events. For example, it’s raining heavily when the school bus forces the children to jump into a muddy gully—causing them to retaliate by digging a giant ditch for the bus during lunch. Mr. Morrison’s voice is also described as sounding like thunder, which is linked to the song he sings, “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry,” a song that expresses defiance in the face of racism and oppression. Rain and thunder are also present when the Wallaces attack Papa and Mr. Morrison, and again towards the final confrontation of the book.

Weather Quotes in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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


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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.

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Weather Symbol Timeline in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

The timeline below shows where the symbol Weather appears in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
The weather becomes rainier, making the walk to school muddier and tougher for the black children. The... (full context)
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
One particularly rainy, miserable day, the children are walking to school, and they think that they hear the... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...him. Cassie realizes that Jeremy never rides the bus either, no matter how bad the weather is. (full context)
Chapter 9
Family and Community Theme Icon
On Thursday, when they’re supposed to return, it begins to storm heavily. The men haven’t returned as scheduled, and the entire family gets worried. Mama sends... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon, a truck drove up behind them. They didn’t hear the truck because of the rain, and then someone shot Papa, and the bullet grazed his temple. The shot scared the... (full context)
Chapter 10
Family and Community Theme Icon
On the last day of the revival, a big storm starts brewing, but the Logans decide to attend the revival anyway. While they’re there, T.J.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Racism Theme Icon
Injustice and Dignity Theme Icon
...that begins with “Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.” It’s another hot night with a storm approaching. Suddenly, Cassie hears tapping on the porch. She sneaks past Big Ma and creeps... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family and Community Theme Icon
...begs him not to use his gun, and Papa gives her a strange look as lightning flashes in the distance. He tells her that he’ll do what he has to, and... (full context)
Land as Independence Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...The land and the cotton are burning, and Big Ma and Mama assume that the lightning started the fire. Mama and Big Ma order the children to stay inside as they... (full context)