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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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What is a conflict in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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A conflict is Harlan Granger’s dispute with the Logan’s over their land.

A conflict is a struggle between opposing forces.  Since this story takes place during the Great Depression in the Deep South and focuses on an African American family, the main conflicts in this story center on the Logan family’s struggle to maintain the family land despite plantation owner Harlan Granger’s attempt to buy it back from them.  For the Logan family, owning their own land rather than sharecropping on it was a matter of pride.

Once our land had been Granger land too, but the Grangers had sold it during Reconstruction to a Yankee for tax money.  … It was good rich land, much of it still virgin forest, and there was no debt on half of it. (Ch. 1)

Because the land is good, and because it is a matter of pride for Granger, he wants the land back.  Also, it is important to Granger that he is powerful enough that when he wants someone to do something, they will do it.  It is especially important that an African American do whatever he tells him to.  He is a racist, and he considers himself better than the Logans and every other African American.

Harlan Granger’s land is worked by “a multitude of sharecropping families” (Ch. 1).  Sharecropping is a form of renting the land where a farmer would plant a crop and pay a large portion of the crop back to the landowner.  It was very profitable for the landowner, and not very profitable for the sharecropper.  Many former slaves were sharecroppers, and many former slave owners used their land in much the same way with little effort.  All they did was own the land, and the farmers did all the work while “renting” it.

Over the course of the book, this dispute over land gets so violent that people get injured and eventually the land and crops themselves are destroyed, with the Logans burning their own land in desperation.  Racism, poverty, desperation, and strife abound throughout the pages.

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What is the conflict of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?person vs. society etc.

The conflict in the novel is primarily racial. Even though the text begins much later, it has it's roots with the Logan's acquisition of part of Mr. Granger's land which he had to sell during reconstruction to cover the taxes for the rest of his land.

Historically speaking, land symbolized political emancipation and agency in America. At the founding stages of the country, only land-owning, white males were allowed to vote.

The Logan family's land thus gives them roots, history and symbolic rights. The conflict arises because whites attempt repeatedly to undermine those rights, but they do so in subtle ways and quite often outside the confines of the law. The incident when Cassie bumps into Lillian Jean is a good example. In the 1930, even the the Jim Crow Laws were quite intact and segregation well enforced, there was certainly no written protocol to follow when a black girl accidentally bumps into a white girl on the sidewalk. Mr. Simms gets involved in what is essentially a  scuffle between two children. He literally puts Cassie in her place by pushing her into the road, something he would never do to a white child. The racial conflict is thus overarching and pervasive in the narrative, but this incident also illustrates that it grows out bounds and breeds a hatred that knows no boundaries. Other examples are the burning of Mr. Berry and the threatened lynching of T.J.


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