What are themes in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?  

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rolling Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor, while addressing issues specific to race, also proposes issues that are universal.  Her main themes are Freedom/Independence, Racial Justice, and Pride

  • Freedom/Independence

The main character, Cassie Logan, hopes to achieve independence. In this respect, Taylor's novel is a novel of maturation. In one episode that demonstrates this theme, Little Man and Cassie both reject the old, used books that they are supposed to use. Miss Crocker whips the children, and Mrs. Logan is very upset; however, she expresses her love and trust in her children when she tells Cassie, "I pray to God you'll make the most of yours [her life]". Little Man certainly personifies the spirit that is in the Logan family with his rejection of second-rate citizenship and books and materials. Uncle Hammer, too, characterizes this spirit with his having moved up North and attained financial security.

  • Racial Justice

At the heart of the narrative is the racial bias that becomes the antagonistic force against which the Logans must fight. From the mistreatment of the bus driver who intentionally muddies the Logan children to Cassie's and Big Ma's treatment in Strawberry, and especially the burning of the Berrys and the killing of T.J. Avery. 

  • Pride/Integrity

One review of Taylor's novel praises the author for her writing that is without "rancor or bitterness, but with pride, strength, and respect for humanity.  The Logans are a proud family, proud of their name, proud of their land, proud of their integrity. Taylor's character exemplify the human spirit that abides in all who have principles and adhere to them.

When their land and happiness is threatened in the growing conflict with the Wallaces, David Logan tells his wife that he must confront Harlan Granger, she is fearful that he will be hurt. Mr. Logan replies,,

If I don't they'll hang TJ. This thing's been coming a long time....

Bravely, Mr. Logan sets fire to his own land to bring everyone together in the effort to stop all the land from burning.