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

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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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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