Cassie is justifiably angry and hurt when she discovers that the books her school received were discarded by the state, but, unlike Little Man, who reacts with an incoherent rage, she tries to be reasonable and explain the situation to Miss Crocker, their teacher. When she reads the line that indicates that the book, which is in "Very Poor" condition, would only now be issued to "nigra(s)", "a knot of anger swell(s) in (her) throat and (holds) there", but Cassie consciously "put(s) aside (her) anger and jumps up" to talk to Miss Crocker. As Miss Crocker is getting ready to whip Little Man for his behavior, Cassie tries to tell her why her brother is so upset about the books. Holding up the book to the teacher, Cassie says, "...see what it says...they give us these ole books when they (don't) want 'em no more". She further tries to make Miss Crocker understand by pointing out specifically "what they called us", but Miss Crocker is unimpressed. She tells Cassie coldly that a "nigra" is what she is, and proceeds to punish Little Man.
Seeing that her case is falling upon deaf ears, Cassie refuses to take her book as well, in solidarity with her brother. She too is punished, whipped before the class with a hickory stick.
Later, figuring that "punishment is always less severe when (she) pour(s) out the whole truth to Mama on (her) own before she (has) heard anything from anyone else", Cassie seeks out her mother to tell her about the incident in class. When she finds her, Cassie witnesses a confrontation between her mother and Miss Crocker, who has gotten to Mrs. Logan first despite Cassie's efforts. Cassie is surprised when she sees her mother stand up with quiet dignity to Miss Crocker, and decides to wait until evening to talk to her about what happened in class. Cassie knows, from overhearing Mrs. Logan's conversation with her teacher, that although she may discipline her and Little Man for their disobedience, her mother understands (Chapter 1).
Cassie's school received textbooks that had been discarded by the county board of education. The county superintendent of schools personally brought the textbooks to the school. Miss Crocker, Cassie's teacher, reminds the class that they should feel very fortunate and take excellent care of their new books. However, Cassie and her brother, Little Man, quickly realize that the discarded books are over ten years old and are in very poor condition. Cassie watches Little Man fling his book on the floor after he reads the inside cover. He refuses to pick it up. Cassie quickly opens her book to find the cause of Little Man's angry reaction. The chart on the inside cover of Cassie's book lists that it is in very poor condition and is now the property of a nigra student, as opposed to a White student. Cassie is furious. She points out the writing on the inside cover to Miss Crocker. Miss Crocker simply tells her to accept what is written and sit down. Cassie, like Little Man, refuses the book. Because they refuse to take their books, both children are hit repeatedly with a switch in front of the entire class.