What does Cassie Logan's relationship with "Miz Lillian Jean" represent?
Three conflicts with Lillian Jean occur, think of the message they convey.
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Cassie questions and challenges practices that many of the other characters accept at face value.Cassie is consistently assertive and logical as she proves in her well-planned retaliation against Lillian Jean Simms. Cassie's independence is symbolic of the family's emphasis on freedom from the prevailing sharecropper system. The pride with which the Logans work to keep their land demonstrates the value they place on independence.
Although, in her retaliation against Lillian Jean, she compromises family values somewhat by defending fairness at the expense of peace.
Cassie's relationship with Lillian Jean symbolizes the racist and prejudicial situation that exists in the South. The conflicts between the two young girls serve to show the effects of a racist society. Racism and prejudice is learned. Lillian Jean is just twelve years old, and she has already been taught to treat Cassie with disrespect and hatefulness.
Cassie is only nine, but she has been taught by her parents to have pride, determination, and courage. Yes, she does plot revenge against Lillian Jean, but it is because she refuses to accept the treatment of blacks as an acceptable fact of life. Her type of revenge reflects her young age, but her determination to make things better never diminishes. She isn't afraid to speak up when she sees the unfair treatment of her grandmother and herself when the store owner waits on white customers first. She knows it's wrong to get the hand-me-down books of the white school children.
So, what's the message? I think it's a message of hope that Cassie represents those who eventually do stand up against prejudice and unfair treatment. Cassie is the future because she challenges the white power structure. Cassie's independence symbolizes how important freedom from the existing sharecropper system is for her family. The Logan family's independent spirit is symbolized in Cassie in the hope that her generation will make it better.
Cassie's poor relationship with Lillian Jean symbolizes the racism the white characters harbored towards the black (and poor) sharecroppers in the novel. It is a way of showing what was actually happening in the world at the time. Cassie standing up for herself could have caused a lot of trouble for the entire community back then.
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