Compare and contrast constructions of education (formal and/or informal) in Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry.

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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is 1976 novel by Mildred D. Taylor, set in the Jim Crow South. Education is one of the major themes of the novel, although formal education isn't seen as much use for the protagonist, Cassie, and her siblings. In the beginning of the novel, they are walking to the school, and when they arrive, Cassie describes it as "a dismal end to an hour's journey" (15). Soon after she's in class, she's bored. This is in the pre-Brown vs. the Board of Education era, so education is separate and shamefully unequal. This becomes very clear when they are given used and out-of-date textbooks.

However, in order to survive in a dangerous and racist society, Cassie has to learn a lot about people, especially white people. After a racially charged incident, her mother, who is also a teacher, tells her, "Because that's the way of things, Cassie" (126). The way of things cannot be taught in school, especially in a school that is providing a third-rate education. Her mother encourages her to think for herself and it seems that almost all of her education comes outside of school. She's clearly intelligent and is very excited to receive books as a Christmas gift. What Taylor's point in her depiction of two very different types of education is that, in a culture such as she's depicting, black people have to learn from each other and from themselves rather than from an education system that views them as less than equal.

Note: I'm using the Dial Books hardcover.

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