In the second part of Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry, T.J., a friend of Stacey's becomes the main focus. Why do you think Taylor did this?
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Although his role does increase as the book progresses, let us also not forget that T. J. also plays an important role at the beginning of this story as well, as it is he that is responsible for the firing of Mary Longan. He is a character that is presented as being seriously flawed, and is clearly somebody that rejoices in the pain and discomfort of other characters. Although he does recognises his faults and the wrongness of what he has done at various points in the novel, his character remains fundamentally flawed, as is shown by the way that he is used and abused by the Simms brothers. His attitude and behaviour causes both blacks and whites to shun him. The second half of this book comes to focus on T. J. because he seems to stand for the opposite of what the Logan family stand for: integrity, honesty, independence and loyalty to his family group and circle. The sadness concerning T. J. is that he never realises that he is being used by the Simms brothers and he is unable to see through their pretence of friendship. Note how T. J. is presented in Chapter Ten, which comes just before the murder that the Simms brothers commit:
But T. J. did not follow immediately. He remained standing in the middle of the compound, his face puzzled and undecided. I had never seen him look more desolately alone, and for a fleeting second I felt almost sorry for him.
T. J.'s primary function in the novel is therefore to show us the consequences of bad actions. T. J. does not stay true to his community and is a self-serving individual. As a result, he is shunned by his own people and used horrendously by the Simms brothers. Whilst his fate is of course pitiable, it can be said that he brought it upon himself.
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