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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, why did TJ want to get Mrs. Logan into trouble?

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In Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, T.J. Avery is Stacey’s best friend, although the rest of the Logan children are wary of him and annoyed by him. Mrs. Logan is Stacey and T.J.’s teacher, and T.J. is always trying to get Stacey to help him cheat on tests by stealing the answers. Stacey says no, but T.J. cheats anyway. The first time T.J. cheats, he is nearly caught, but Stacey takes the blame. The second time, Mrs. Logan catches T.J. with cheat sheets on the final exam and fails him. To get back at her, T.J. tells the people at the Wallace store that Mrs. Logan had edited the textbooks given to her school by the school for white children. The Logan children find out what T.J. did and they refuse to talk to him; so do the rest of the children at school, and T.J. is left friendless and alone.

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TJ is a tricky character.  Although he does not thrive on prejudice himself, he is happy to use it to his advantage.  He is driven by his own need for acceptance and approval.  This leads him to campaign against Mrs. Logan, not because she is ineffective as a teacher or dangerous in any way, but because she failed him twice in her class.  He resents the grade and gets revenge on her to make himself feel better.  What is ironic is that TJ's need for approval and acceptance is what causes him to be alienated.  He has no loyalty, and so others do not trust him.

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