Mildred D. Taylor Naomi Mitchison - Essay

Naomi Mitchison

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is an extremely moving story of life down on the Mississippi during the times of the depression—not so long ago. The memory is still fresh; if it were not Mildred Taylor could not have made it into such an outstandingly gripping narrative…. There is the hideous shadow of violence everywhere, steadily rising to a fearful climax, with the mean whites shoring up their power. Yet, behind it all, there is the possibility of justice slowly coming.

The people in the book are real, and so is the background, cotton and forest, mouth-watering food. Young people shouldn't find the southern American speech too difficult, though it would be best read aloud. It is particularly interesting that the black family, only three generations from slavery, are not poor sharecroppers, but landowners and industrious farmers, clearly with a higher standard both of living and of intelligence than most of their white neighbours, yet they remain unaccepted…. We readers begin to sympathize with Cassie and her brother from the first racial insult …, we can't help feeling with her all the way.

Naomi Mitchison, "In Black and White," in The Times Educational Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1977; reproduced from The Times Educational Supplement by permission), No. 3258, November 18, 1977, p. 33.∗