illustration of a fire spreading through a field

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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What is the resolution of the book Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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The final resolution in the book Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry proves to be bittersweet. In the end, T.J. is hunted down by the "night men," also known as the lynch mob. In the dark of night, the night men arrive at his house, terrorize T.J.'s family, the Averys, and beat T.J. profusely. All the while, the Logan children watch from a distance, terrified by what they see. Furthermore, as this was happening, Papa had deliberately started a fire in the fields to draw attention away from T.J., who was about to be lynched. Mr. Jamison had eventually arrived to stop the hanging of T.J., and the Logan children, apart from Stacey, returned home to safety. T.J.'s life was spared, but he likely faced a jail sentence, as he was arrested. Ultimately, the irony is that white and black neighbors work together to extinguish the fires set by Papa. However, despite these events, the racism portrayed in the novel is a harsh reality for the Logan family, as well as for many others during this time period of the 1930s in Mississippi. Cassie and her family, though, continue to have a bond with each other that cannot be taken away by any obstacle in front of them, and the "land" will forever keep them financially sound.

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A lynch mob comes after TJ, and it looks as though TJ is done for. Papa and Mr. Morrison go to stop the mob, and then the cotton fields catch fire. The mob has to divert their attention to the fire, momentarily saving TJ from the danger of being lynched. Everyone must work together to get the fire under control. The fire is quenched, and TJ is arrested. Cassie comes to the realization that her father set the fire to distract the mob from its purpose. Unfortunately, while TJ will not be murdered by the mob, he still may not survive his sentence. There is a bittersweet resolution here—whites and blacks end up working together to control the fire, but it does not change the reality of racism in 1930s Mississippi. Cassie undergoes a lot of character growth, and even though she is only about nine or ten years old, she comes to understand much about the world over the course of the novel.

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What is the resolution of "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry?" What is the author's purpose of the story?

"Roll of Thunder" was written by Milldred D. Taylor.  She states in the introduction that the reason for writing the book was, in someway, to honor her father.  She wanted to tell the history of her people.  She wanted to tell of the inequalities of the African-American people in Mississippi.  She wanted to show the hope which was seen in the resolution of the novel when white and black people worked together to put out the fire and save the crops. 

When "T.J. demonstrates his weakness by participating with the Simmses in an attempted robbery,"  a white man is killed.  The Simms boys put all the blame on T.J. and eventually he will be hunted down and the mob will try to lynch him.  Mr. Logan starts the fire in the fields to distract everyone.  The people join together to put out the fire which stops the lynching.  Things will go back to normal, eventually, but Cassie cries.  "I cried for T.J. For T.J. and the land."

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