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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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Who is Mr. Morrison in "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?"

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Mr. Morrison is a large man that David Logan hires to help out on his farm while he is away working on the railroad. As David tells it, Mr. Morrison has lost his job on the railroad. But Mr. Morrison lets Mary Logan know right away in chapter 2 that he was fired for fighting. When she comes to understand that he was provoked by some white men who were not punished, she readily accepts him into their lives.

Mr. Morrison lives in a shack near the house that the children help him clean out. This gives him a bit of privacy, as well as protecting the family from any rumors regarding Mary’s honor while her husband is away. He comes to be their protector in physical form as well during several incidents in the story. The first is when he stops Hammer from doing violence to Charlie Simms. We never learn what he says to Hammer while they are riding in the car, but he clearly was very persuasive since he convinced the hot- headed Hammer to let the insult from Charlie pass.

We also see his physical presence the evening that the night men come riding, looking for someone to take revenge against. Cassie is very frightened but takes comfort when she realizes that Mr. Morrison is guarding the house in the dark, his large form unmistakable.

More dramatically, he fights with the Wallace brothers on the road back from Vicksburg when they try to kill David. The three of them are no match for Mr. Morrison, but this incident makes Mary even more worried for his safety, and she pleads with him to leave. But David reassures him that he is welcome to stay, and Mary relents, saying that Mr. Morrison is a part of their lives now.

Interestingly, we never learn Mr. Morrison’s first name. Although he becomes like a member of the family in many ways, there is still a bit of mystery about him. This mystery, combined with his tremendous physical strength, might give the reader the feeling that he is like a guardian angel to the Logan family.

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Mr. Morrison is not a relative of the Logans, the main family in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, but he comes to live with them and plays a large part in their lives.

Mr. Morrison first appears in the second chapter of the novel. He comes with the Logans' father, who has just returned home. Cassie, the main character and novel's narrator, says this when she first notices Mr. Morrison:

In our excitement, we had taken no notice of the other man standing quietly at the side of the road. But now, gazing upward at the most formidable-looking being we had ever encountered, we huddled closer to Papa.

Cassie then describes Mr. Morrison as "a human tree in height" and very large and muscular, which is probably why she was frightened him at first.

Later in the chapter, Cassie's father explains that he brought Mr. Morrison to the Logan's house because he lost his job, and her father asked if he'd be the family's "hired hand" who would do work around the house in exchange for a place to stay and a little money.

Later on in the novel, however, it becomes clear that Cassie's father had another reason for bringing Mr. Morrison to the Logan house: so he could protect the family while their father wasn't there.

Click here to read more about the characters in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

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