The black community forms a group that allows black individuals to prop each other up in order to face the racism and injustice of the South. They form this community through storytelling and going to Church, and by organizing in specific instances to stand up for the community—like in the instance of Papa’s boycott, for example.
For Cassie, there is nothing more important than family. For example, Cassie is shocked when Jeremy says that he doesn’t like his older brothers because she believes that family takes precedence over everything else. The characters who don’t stick by their families—like T.J.—get into trouble and ultimately drag others down with them, while characters who think first of others—like Papa—strengthen the community around them. On the other hand, friendships are shown to be potentially dangerous things in the novel. The relationships between Stacey and Jeremy and Stacey and T.J., for example, work out badly (for different reasons), and Cassie doesn’t have any close ties to anyone outside of her family. Only family is there every time, all the time.
Family and Community ThemeTracker
Family and Community Quotes in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
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.”
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.”
“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’.”
“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.
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.”
“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.”
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…”
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.”
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.