In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, what point is Mama trying to make the children understand when she takes them to see the Berrys?
Mama takes her children to see the Berrys because she wants to impress upon them just how dangerous the world in which they live is for African Americans.
Mr. Berry lies in bed in agony, horribly disfigured. He "can't hardly stand to have nothin' touch him...his face (has) no nose, and the head no hair, the skin (is) scarred, burned, and the lips...wizened black, like charcoal...(a) wheezing sound echoe(s) from the opening that (is) a mouth". Mr. Berry's nephew had been accused by some drunken white men of flirting with a white woman, and when he sought refuge at his uncle's house, the men took both Mr. Berry and his nephew, poured kerosene over them, and set them afire. Everyone knows who did it, but because the perpetrators are white and the victims black, nothing was ever done about it. Mr. Berry's nephew died of his injuries, and Mr. Berry lies tortured and helpless, waiting to either die or get well enough to resume his life terribly disfigured.
Mama's children are at an age where they recognize the blatant inequalities and injustices with which those of their race must live in the South during the 1930s. Their natural inclination is to fight against what they see as wrong, but they have no concept of the magnitude of the consequences which might result. Mama takes them to see Mr. Berry to give them an understanding of the realities of the world. It is her hope that seeing Mr. Berry will help them temper their rightful feelings of anger and indignation with a practicality which will enable to survive these difficult times (Chapter 4).