What is the expostion of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The exposition of a literary work, which occurs at the beginning, introduces the setting, the characters, and the basic situation.  In other words, it is much like what the audience views at a drama when the curtain goes up. The basic situation is followed by the inciting incident, which introduces the central conflict. In Mildred Taylor's novel, the exposition accomplishes the exposition in Chapter I:

  • The main characters, the Logan children, are first introduced, and the dynamics among them is established as Cassie, the narrator, complains to her little brother about his slowness.  She and her other brothers are walking in "moody silence."
  • On their way to school, the setting is conveyed as children traverse a narrow dirt road,"like a lazy red serpent dividing the high forest bank of quiet old trees on the left from the cotton field..."The Granger land is near; Cassie explains how her father came to own part of it, but the farm does not yield enough profit, so Papa has to work on the railroad. Another black family, the Averys, sharecrop on Granger land. This information establishes the basic situation.
  • As the children walk, the recent burning of Mr. Burris by white men is mentioned. Also, as the school bus filled with white children passes them, the driver deliberately hits a mud hole in order to splash the Logan children. These occurrences introduce the inciting incidents which convey the racial tension (conflict).