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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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Chapter 8 Summary

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Last Updated on July 24, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 439

Cassie is still burning from the insult she received at the hands of Lillian Jean Simms in Strawberry. One day on the road, Cassie chases after Lillian Jean, apologizes, and pretends to think Black people really are inferior to White people. This delights Lillian Jean but dismays Jeremy and Cassie’s brothers, who do not know that Cassie has a plan.

Cassie confides in Papa about her anger at Lillian Jean. Papa tells Cassie that she is quick to anger like his brother, and he explains that it is not worth it to pursue revenge if the consequences of revenge are too great. He says that Cassie’s self-respect is worth more than respect from anyone else—and that she cannot take revenge if it will cause Mr. Simms to make trouble for the whole family. Cassie promises that Mr. Simms will never hear about what she is going to do.

For a month, Cassie acts like Lillian Jean’s personal servant. Lillian Jean grows more and more fond of Cassie, eventually telling Cassie all her secrets. One day Cassie leads Lillian Jean into the woods, beats her up, and forces her to apologize for the event in Strawberry. Then Cassie threatens to reveal all of Lillian Jean’s secrets if the older girl ever admits that Cassie attacked her.

The next day at school, Kaleb Wallace and Harlan Granger, who both belong to the school board, come to inspect Mama's classroom. They have obviously been tipped off that Mama has pasted over the racist charts the county uses to record the skin color of the students using the books. They also accuse Mama of teaching ideas that are not in the county’s books. They fire Mama from her teaching job. Mama knows that this is revenge for her support of the boycott on the Wallace store. She is devastated.

A few days later, the Logan kids learn that T.J., angry about failing one of Mama's tests, tipped Mr. Wallace off about the fact that Mama covered up the racist charts in the school books. T.J. tries to wiggle out of the blame, but he slips up and makes it clear that he did talk to the Wallaces about Mama. Stacey does not beat T.J. up; he says T.J. has earned worse treatment than a beating. After that, all the Logan kids—even the normally friendly Christopher John—refuse to be T.J.’s friend anymore. When the Logans walk away, T.J. screams after them that he has other friends, better friends, friends who are White.

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