Chapter 6 Summary

Home from Strawberry, Cassie and Stacey work together to unhitch the mule. Stacey tells Cassie that Big Ma is not at fault for what happened in Strawberry, but Cassie disagrees.

When the kids open the barn doors, they see a big, silver car that looks like Harlan Granger’s Packard. They run inside and find Uncle Hammer, their father’s older brother. After embracing him, they learn the surprising news that the car belongs to him.

Uncle Hammer asks about Strawberry. Although Big Ma tries to distract her, Cassie tells all about her bad day. Uncle Hammer is amused that Cassie stood up to the shop owner but grows furious when he hears that a grown man twisted her arm and pushed her into the street. Hammer storms out and gets into his car, ignoring the protests of Mama and Big Ma. Just before Hammer leaves, Mr. Morrison jumps into the passenger seat.

When Cassie voices her hope that Mr. Simms will get hurt, Mama sends her to bed. Later Mama comes in and says that Big Ma was only trying to protect Cassie when she made Cassie apologize. Mama explains that people like the Simmses believe white people are better than black people. Cassie protests that they are not, and Mama agrees, going on to say that nobody is better than anyone else. She refuses to tell Cassie what will happen if Uncle Hammer attacks Mr. Simms, but she promises that Mr. Morrison will bring Uncle Hammer back safely.

The next morning, Cassie learns that Uncle Hammer will take the family to church in his new car. Among themselves, the kids speculate about whether Uncle Hammer beat up Mr. Simms. The younger three think so, but Stacey says nothing happened. If it had, he explains, Uncle Hammer would have been killed.

At church, Cassie's community marvels at Hammer’s new car. After the service, the family takes a ride. Uncle Hammer drives the family all around the country. On the way home, Hammer drives onto a one-lane bridge that already has a truck on it. The truck’s driver backs up, thinking the car belongs to Harlan Granger. When Hammer passes the truck, the white driver tips his hat, then looks shocked when he realizes he just made a gesture of respect to a black man. Uncle Hammer is pleased about this trick, but Mama tells him he should not have done it. “One day we’ll pay,” she says.