In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, what lesson does Uncle Hammer teach Stacey when he refuses to let him get the coat back from T.J.?
Uncle Hammer lets T.J. keep the coat when he finds out that Stacey gave it to him.
Uncle Hammer notices that Stacey’s “faded cotton jacket” is too small for him. He buys him a nice, luxurious new one.
Stacey eagerly slipped on the coat; it was much too big for him, but Mama said that she could take up the sleeves and that he would grow into it in another year. (Ch. 6)
Although Stacey is thrilled at the gift, he does not shoot into Uncle Hammer’s arms. He is reserved, holding out his hand for Uncle Hammer to shake. It is his grown-up way of showing his appreciation.
Stacey is embarrassed because the new one is too big for him and he allows T.J. to tease him into giving it to him, calling him a “fat preacher.” Stacey says he knows T.J. is just jealous, but he lets him get under his skin just the same.
When Mama asks Stacey to bring her his coat so that she can fix it to fit him better, he tells her it’s all right. He then admits he gave it to T.J.
“. . . T.J. said it made me look like . . . like a preacher . . . he’d take it off my hands till I grow into it, then thataway all the guys would stop laughing at me and calling me preacher.” (Ch. 7)
Stacey’s defense is that he didn’t give it to him for good, and he just lent it to him, but his mother says that in the Logan house they do not give away clothes. She tells him to go bring it to her.
Uncle Hammer overhears this. He tells her to let it be. If Stacey gave away the coat, he gave away the coat. T.J. can keep it. He is clearly hurt that Stacey would give away his gift. He feels that Stacey was ungrateful, and does not deserve it. T.J. can keep the coat because “at least he knows a good thing when he sees it.”
Hammer is really more upset that Stacey allowed T.J. to talk him out of his coat than at the fact that he gave away the present. He knows that the Logan family will be facing tough times. He feels Stacey needs his wits ahead of him. When he speaks about Stacey’s “brains” he is trying to teach him a lesson, about T.J., about the world, and about bad influences in general.