Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Questions and Answers
by Mildred D. Taylor

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How is TJ saved from the lynch mob in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry? 

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Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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In Chapter 11, TJ struggles to get back home after a brutal beating at RW and Melvin's hands. However, TJ isn't home for long when a mob descends upon his house, and a group of men forcibly drag him and his family out of their home.

By all indications, the mob holds TJ responsible for the theft of the pearl-handed pistol from Jim Lee Barnett's store. To add to TJ's streak of bad luck, both RW and Melvin lie about seeing him with two other black men at Jim Lee's store. Of course, we know from the story that RW and Melvin tricked TJ into being an accomplice in the theft. Then, to protect themselves from scrutiny, both RW and Melvin join Kaleb and Thurston Wallace in brutalizing TJ and his family.

So, how is TJ saved from being lynched? First, when the mob begins to drag TJ off to hang him, Mr. Jamison rushes forward to shield TJ with his body. Knowing that Mr. Jamison won't be able to hold off the mob for long, Stacey sends his siblings to get their father. Papa then sets off with Mr. Morrison to try to stop TJ from being lynched.

However, lightning strikes, and a fire soon spreads throughout the cotton fields. At least, that's the initial consensus about the fire. Knowing that his crops were in danger, Harlan Granger, the plantation owner, orders all the white men to fight the fire and to forget about lynching TJ. Later, Stacey tells Cassie that Papa was actually the one who started the fire. Papa knew that the only way to save TJ would be to distract the plantation owner's attention away from TJ.

So, you can say that Mr. Jamison and Papa's actions that day saved TJ from being lynched by the mob. However, TJ's future appears grim, and the story ends on an ominous note. The implication is that TJ may not survive his incarceration.

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