What are some themes and issues in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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accessteacher's profile pic

accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I would want to argue that one of the central themes of this powerful story is the value and pride with which the Logans look after their own land and the sacrifices that they are willing to make to keep it in the Logan family, even when those sacrifices become very challenging and personal, such as Uncle Hammer's selling of his car. The independence of the Logan family in the face of white opposition and manipulation to try and get them to sell it is something that the characters battle against throughout the entire novel, but nowhere is a more poignant description of this theme found than in the first chapter, when Cassie asks her Papa why he has left them to find work to help support the family:

I asked him once why he had to go away, why the land was so important. He took my hand and said in his quite way: "Look out there, Cassie, girl. All that belongs to you. You ain't never had to live on nobody's place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you'll never have to. That's important. You may not understand that now, but one day you will. Then you'll see."

We can see how having your own land as opposed to renting land from a white landowner instills the Logan family with a sense of dignity and strength that other African-Americans in the novel lack. Of course, the possession of the land is something that brings them into conflict with the whites around them.

swarnamalis's profile pic

swarnamalis | College Teacher | (Level 2) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

The main themes is racism and the lack of respect shown to Black people by the white community. The Logan family's stoic and respectable behaviour and their courage    in the face of white opposition and abuse show what these people are made of. The Logans are morally upright and very honest straight forward people.

The Logans own their own land . That is an enormous thing. But it is the very thing  that brings them to conflict.The readers see how owning your own land as opposed to renting land from a white landowner endows the the Logan family with a sense of dignity . Talking about dignity we need to talk about grand ma who is the stoic, wise, pillar of the family. ( Do a character study of her)

The issuing of used, old school books from the white school to the black kids is a shocking event that we find disturbing. The black kids are further asked to be grateful for the books. This is an  event that clearly enhances the  themes of racism to the reader.

""Nigger Nigger mud eater!" - shouted out from the white kids who go to  school on a special bus is another example you can use to talk about racism.

The white kids abuse the black kids and it is considered OK. Even the bus driver splashes mud on the black kids walking to school. What a shame!

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