illustration of a fire spreading through a field

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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Chapter 4 Summary

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Cassie and her brothers make a pact never to tell anyone about the school bus incident. All of them, especially Cassie, remain terrified that they will be the target of revenge. Mama and Big Ma worry about the kids' subdued behavior.

A week after the incident, the kids get relief from T.J. Avery, who tells them about a Black man who was tarred and feathered for calling a White man a liar. Cassie and her brothers realize that the victim of this attack was the real target on the night the line of cars passed their house; nobody knows about the Logan kids' revenge on the bus. They begin to feel safer.

The Logan kids catch T.J. rummaging through Mama’s possessions, but he claims he has done nothing wrong. Later they learn he stole the answers to a history test. He cheats on the test and pins the blame on Stacey. Mama whips Stacey in front of the whole class.

After school that day, T.J. runs to the Wallace store, thinking he will be safe there. Stacey goes after him, and Cassie and the younger boys follow. Mr. Wallace and the other White men at the store ridicule them, but Cassie and her brothers barely notice; they are busy pursuing T.J. Stacey catches T.J. and begins hitting him.

Before the fight is over, Mr. Morrison arrives and orders the four Logan kids to come away. He tells them they should not have gone to the Wallace store but that he will leave it up to them to decide whether to tell their mother. Stacey thinks it over and decides to confess.

When the kids and Mr. Morrison arrive home, they see a large, silver car in the driveway. It belongs to Harlan Granger, the White man who owns almost all the land in the area. He wants to buy the Logan land but Big Ma refuses to sell it. Big Ma tells the kids all about her husband, who struggled for years to buy the land the Logans now own. Big Ma explains that their land used to belong to the Grangers, who lost it after the Civil War. Harlan Granger has bought back all of his family's lost land except the two hundred acres that belong to the Logans. Granger resents the fact that Big Ma refuses to sell.

Stacey confesses to Mama that he went to the Wallace store, and she guesses correctly that the other kids went too. She does not whip them, but she takes them to a house where they see a man who has been badly burned. The man cannot speak, and he is covered in scars, with Black lips and no nose or hair. The children are shocked.

On the way home, Mama explains that the man was burned by the Wallaces. She stops at several houses on the way home and encourages people not to let their children go to the Wallace store. She has a long conversation with Mr. Turner, who says he keeps his children away from the store but still has to shop there himself. Like other sharecroppers, he cannot afford to make an overnight trip to the store in Vicksburg, as the Logans do. He has no cash money, either, because the man who owns his land pays all Mr. Turner's income to the store, where Mr. Turner is in constant debt. Mr. Turner points out that no other store owner would let him have credit.

Mama asks Mr. Turner if he would shop at Vicksburg if someone made the trip for him and backed his signature for the debt. Mr. Turner thinks it over and says he would consider it. After they leave, the kids want to know who would guarantee a loan for a man like Mr. Turner, but Mama refuses to explain her plan.

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