Discuss how children are  educated to take on the role of agents of change with reference to Roll of Thunder?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Logan children learn to take on the role of agents of change by the example of the adult members of their family, as well as from their words of advice and encouragement . From their parents they have inherited strong and independent spirits, as evinced in their plot to retaliate against the bus driver who has covered them in mud when they have walked to school. Then, on the first day of school at the Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School, the children are given worn books from the white school; however, the meticulous Little Man asks politely for another because his is "dirty." But, in actuality, it is not just the dirt, but what is written inside in a column: "nigra." The proud Logan children refuse to be called this pejorative term. This pride is reinforced by their mother who teaches Black History in the school; she is later fired allegedly for this act of independence, but it is really for the boycott against the Wallace store.  

When Little Man complains at home about the mud from the school buses and the fact that they must walk to school, his grandmother, Big Ma, encourages him,

"So ain't no use frettin' 'bout it. One day you'll have a plenty of clothes and maybe even a car of yo' own to ride 'round in....

On a trip to another town for supplies, Cassie speaks up when she is not waited on in turn as she does not understand the Jim Crow South in which she lives. The store owner tells her brother Stacey to take her home and teach her what she is. "I already know what I am!" Cassie retorts. Once outside, she tells her brother, "You know he was wrong." Then, at home, Cassie relates what happened to her family. Uncle Hammer laughs, "Oh, that's great! Then what happened?"

When word gets out that the Logans and others are boycotting the store of the Wallaces, the vigilante terrorism threatens them, but on a trip to Vicksburg for supplies, Pa and Mr. Morrison survive an attack. From the family members, then, the children learn strength of character. And, from Big Ma and Mama they learn to resist, but also to be wise about their resistance. For instance, Mama tells Cassie,

"...we have no choice of what color we're born or who our parents are or whether we're rich or poor. What we do have is some choice over what we make of our lives once we're here."

Cassie takes this advice, and her brother Stacey, too, matures from advice. For example, when he gives his new coat to T. J. Avery, his Uncle Hammer cautions him, 

 “You care what a lot of useless people say ’bout you you’ll never get anywhere, ’cause there’s a lotta folks don’t want you to make it.”

Still Stacey remains loyal to T. J. and tries to help him at the end of the narrative after the treacherous R.W. and Melvin Simms involve him in a robbery.

Having learned loyalty, independence of spirit, responsibility for family and commitment to loved ones, the Logan children truly become the strong young blacks who can effect change.

Read the study guide:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

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