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In the opening chapter of Mildred Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, it is the first day of school, but the Logan children are discontent. Cassie, the narrator, regrets having to go to school on such a beautiful day, and her brother known as Little Man is walking too slowly to suit her, but he does not want to get any of the road dust on his clothes.
"You keep it up and make us late for school, Mama's gonna wear you out." I threatened, pulling with exasperation at the high collar of the Sunday dress Mama had made me wear for the first day of school - as if that event were something special.
Another of her brothers, Stacey, is disgruntled that he must be in his mother's class this school year. Then, as the children walk along, through a fence emerges two boys without shoes, sons of sharecroppers. One of these boys, T.J. Avery, talks with Stacey about his being in his mother's class that he must repeat this year.
"You'll be learnin' all sorts of stuff 'fore the rest of us..." He smiled slyly. "like what's on all them tests."
In these first paragraphs of Chapter 1, Taylor introduces the Logan children and their neighbors. There is some foreshadowing of conflicts as T. J. suggests that Stacey cheat for him by looking at Mrs. Logan's tests. In addition, the children are uneasy about the beginning of school.
Further, there is an incident which suggests serious conflict. T. J. gossips about the burning of Mr. Berry and his two nephews who live some distance from the Logans.
Finally T.J. said, "Okay. See, them Berrys' burnin' wasn't no accident. Some white men took a match to 'em."
Then, T.J. explains how he lied his way out of trouble when his parents heard from Mrs. Logan that he had been at the Wallace's "dancing room" at their store; he told his mother that he had just sneaked out for candy. After this disclosure about the Wallace's store, the children hear a rumble and must jump off the road before being run down. Still, the bus carrying the white children sprays "a scarlet haze while laughing white faces pressed against the bus windows." This incident, too, suggests dissension between the races even with the children. And, little Man is very upset when he sees his neat clothes muddied.
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