What is a character vs. nature conflict in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Farming is an example of character vs. nature, and so is fire used by whites to harass that sharecroppers.

A conflict is a struggle between opposing forces.  There are many examples of struggles with nature in the novel.  For example, famers always struggle against nature make a living.  If the crops don’t grow they don’t survive.

Another example of a battle with nature is also a battle with other characters.  Fire is repeatedly used as a motif in the book.  In the first chapter, the reader is introduced to the character versus nature conflict of person versus fire when fire is used as a weapon, which is also a character versus character conflict.

Finally T.J. said, “Okay. See, them Berrys’ burnin’ wasn’t no accident. Some white men took a match to ’em.” (Ch. 1)

The racial tensions that exist between the two races stem from the fact that both of them want the land.  Most of the African Americans are sharecroppers, but the Logans own their land.  Harlan Granger, the white man, works through intimidation to try to get the land back.  He takes advantage of the natural fears that people have by using fire as a weapon.  When the whites attack the African Americans with fire, this is an example of both a character versus nature and a character versus character conflict.

The fire serves as a threat and a deterrent.  It warns others to not mess with Granger, reminding them that there is no low he will not stoop to in order to get what he wants.  They fear him because they know he is ruthless and immoral.

Farmers are in conflict with nature as they try to battle the elements and the land to get a satisfying crop, but they are often also in conflict with other characters.  Characters can use nature as a weapon against other characters, as the whites did when they used fire to harass the sharecroppers.