What were R.W. and Melvin doing to T.J. in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?
Jeremy tells Cassie and Stacey that he does not like the way his brothers treat T.J. because they pretend to be nice to him and then laugh at him and call him names behind his back.
Jeremy explains that he is lonely, because he doesn’t really like his siblings. Cassie and Logan are surprised, and ask why. Jeremy explains that he does not like the way they treat T.J. because they are using him and just pretending to be his friend.
They brung T.J. by the house a couple of times when Pa wasn’t home. They treated him almost friendly like, but when he left they laughed and talked ’bout him—called him names.” (ch 9)
Cassie asks Mama why they would do this, and Mama explains that “They may just want him around because it makes them feel good.” She explains that they keep him around to use him and laugh at him. Cassie wonders why T.J. doesn’t know he’s being used.
Jeremy's uneasiness at his white older brothers playing with a younger black boy foreshadows trouble for T.J., who, as Mama says, wants attention. He does not see what is really happening, and does not know he is being led into trouble. Jeremy and Mr. Jamison demonstrate that not all whites are bad people, but that fighting society is difficult.