In contrast to the Logan children, T. J. Avery lacks integrity and loyalty; he is capricious, spending time with the Logans, but reporting Mrs. Logan as responsible for the boycott against the Wallace store; friendly with Stacey Logan, but later telling the Logan boys that the white Simms boys are superior to Stacey and his family.. Additionally, out of his anger, he tells the white people that Mrs. Logan is a poor teacher because he was caught cheating, causing trouble for Mrs. Logan.
Later, in Chapter 11, after rejecting the Logan boys for the Simmses, T. J. finds himself exploited by the boys as part of a robbery in Strawberry. The Simms boys cruelly beat Mr. and Mrs. Barnett when they attempt to stop them. The frightened T. J. rides back with them, but when he threatens to tell on R. W. and Melvin as the culprits in the robbery, they beat him unmercifully. T. J. seeks shelter and help at the Logans, confessing what has happened to them.
Afraid to go home on his own, Stacey accompanies him and the other Logan children come to his aid. But just as they leave T. J. at his door, Kaleb Wallace and his brother Thurston arrive, demanding that T. J. come outside. R.W. and Melvin Simms pretend to have witnessed T. J. commit the robbery when they went to town to shoot pool. And, when the Avery family is dragged outside and the pistol found on T. J., he is kicked so hard in his already swollen stomach that he cries out in terrible pain and falls upon the ground. The white men want to hang him, but Mr. Jamison and the sheriff arrive.
The situation is very tense, but David Logan diffuses it by setting the fields on fire, bringing all the people around to help in stopping it. After the fire is extinguished, Stacey asks what will happen to T.J.
"He's in jail right now....He could possibly go on the chain gang...."
But, Stacey worries that T.J. may be put to death for the murder of Mr. Barnett. Cassie narrates,
What had happened to T.J. in the night I did not understand, but I knew it would not pass. And I cried for those things which had happened in the night and would not pass.
T.J. Avery becomes a victim of the injustice of the Wallaces and those of their ilk.