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In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, how does Taylor mix both bad and good characters...

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adnan1972 | eNoter

Posted May 4, 2013 at 8:40 PM via web

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In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, how does Taylor mix both bad and good characters between blacks and whites?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM (Answer #1)

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What is so fascinating about this novel is the way that Taylor deliberately problematises characteristics of both black and white characters in order to avoid a simple association of black characters being "good" and white characters being "bad." Whilst of course the Logans are shown to be in conflict with an unfair and unjust white-dominated system of power that does all it can to exclude them from society and tries to dispossess them of their land, at the same time there are white characters who work to support the Logans and are shown to be very different from the majority of the white characters in the novel. Wade Jamison is one such example, the attorney who does a lot to support the Logans and even to oppose the Wallaces, as is shown by his actions of supporting the Wallaces' store and helping the boycotting sharecroppers. Jeremy Simms is another such character, who deliberately befriends the Logan children and informing the Logans about what is happening in the white community.

At the same time, the character of T.J. also represents the way in which there are bad characters within the black community. The way in Chapter Ten he is depicted as being tricked by the Simms brothers into seeing them as friends and as more faithful to him than his own black community is something that causes Cassie to feel significant sympathy for him. The Simms brothers speak to him with a "condescending smirk" on his face that he is blind to, and as Cassie sees T.J. looking "desolately alone," she "felt almost sorry for him." The way he becomes involved in murder and is so easily tricked by his love for material possessions is something that indicates there are no simple lines in this novel that can be drawn between good and bad characters: both whites and blacks feature characters who are noble and who are not in different ways, which avoids an overly simplistic treatment of racial difference in this novel.

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