An event of Chapter 4 certainly elicits a reaction from many a reader of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Cassie is nervous after she and the others have sabotaged the school bus with the white children that sprayed muddy water all over them. Then to add to her unease, T.J. comes to the house and asks, "Say, y'all hear the latest 'bout them night men?" When he gets the interest of Cassie and her brothers, T.J. tells them that Mr. Sam Tatum has been tarred and feathered for having called Mr. Jim Lee Barnett, who runs the Mercantile in Strawberry, a liar because Barnett has charged him for merchandise he had not purchased.
As the tension of the chapter builds, the children are caught at the Wallace store by Mr. Morrison, who brings them home. They are rather surprised when Big Ma does not whip them; instead, she wakes them early in the morning and takes them where a man is very sick, and "he doesn't look like other people." Once at the Berry's
The interior was dark, lit only by the narrow slat of gray daylight allowed in by the open door.
Mrs. Berry invites them in and places a sheet on her husband and brings a candle.
A still form lay there staring at us with glittering eyes. The face had no nose, and the head no hair; the skin was scarred, burned, and the lips were wizened black, like charcoal. As the wheezing sound echoed from the opening that was a mouth, Mama said, 'Say good morning to Mrs. Berry's husband, children.'
After an hour, Mama and the children leave; she tells them, that it was the Wallaces who burned Mr. Berry and his nephews with kerosene.