Why does Pap feel that blacks and whites can't be friends in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Set in the Jim Crow South, Rolling Thunder, Hear My Cry is the tale of a black family that holds together amid racial strife. In Chapters 9 and 10, there are confrontations between the Wallaces and David Logan and Mr. Morrison. Having boycotted the Wallaces' store, the Logans and other black families travel to Vicksburg to do their shopping until they are attacked by the Wallaces and Papa is shot and his leg broken because the mules are startled and back up the wagon upon him. There are no measures that the Logans can take against the Wallaces because if they pressed charges, Mr. Morrison would go to jail for the injuries that he imposed upon the Wallaces:

She [Mama]explained that as long as the Wallaces...did not make an official complaint about the incident, then we must remain silent also.  If we did not, Mr. Morrison could be charged with attacking white men, which could possibly end in his being sentenced to the chain gang, or worse.

Further in Chapter 10, Mr. Morrison brings Papa the notice from the bank that their mortgage is due earlier than expected, before the cotton harvest. Papa tells Mama, "Mary, don't you understand they're trying to take the land?" He and Mr. Morrison ride to Strawberry, but return hopelessly, saying that the banker tells them their credit is no good anymore. Papa tell his friend that he has called his brother Hammer in Chicago. After Hammer arrives with the money for the mortgage, David Logan tells his brother to return to the North because "[I]t gets hot like this and folks get dissatisfied with life, they start looking 'round for somebody to take it out on.....I don't want it to be you."

Clearly there is a great deal of racial tension in the atmosphere as the animosity of the wallaces mounts and they exert their influence in town and at the bank.

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