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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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Uncle Hammer's role and actions in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Summary:

Uncle Hammer in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry serves as a protective and assertive figure for the Logan family. His strong sense of justice contrasts with the more cautious approach of other characters, highlighting his willingness to confront racism directly, which sometimes puts him at odds with the community's need for safety.

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How does Uncle Hammer assist the Logans in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

Uncle Hammer stands up for his family, sells his car and works to save the farm.  He also provides emotional support to the Logan family.

Uncle Hammer lives in the city to the north.  When he comes to visit, he brings his fancy car.  He clearly has been successful and lives a city life instead of a country life.  However, when Uncle Hammer realizes what is happening, he sells his car to save the family farm.

Every winter, Uncle Hammer comes back home to spend the Christmas season with the Logans (p. 119).  He is often aloof and has a “cold, distant glaze” in his eyes (p. 119).  Uncle Hammer saw Granger’s Packard and decided he had to have one for himself.  The car meant a lot to him.

In addition to selling the car, Uncle Hammer also looks out for the kids.  When Cassie is bullied, Uncle Hammer is concerned (p. 122).   When Mrs. Logan asks him not to make “unnecessary trouble,” he gets angry.

You think my brother died and I got my leg half blown off in the German war to have some redneck knock Cassie around any time it suits him? (p. 122)

Hammer comments on the double standard.  If he had knocked a white girl down, he would be hanged.  When Uncle Hammer tries to fight back against the abuse, and the family is afraid he will be killed.

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Why does Uncle Hammer visit in "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry"?

Uncle Hammer, who is a formidable appearing man, returns to the farm because he has learned of the trouble that brews. First of all, his sister-in-law, Cassie's mother has begun a boycott on the Wallace store because it has been the Wallace brothers who burned the Berry men. Then, after the Logan ride to Strawberry to make theirs and others' purchases rather than shop at the Wallace's, tensions increase. Added to these tensions, Cassie has been insulted at the store by old Mr. Barnett, who shouts at her to get out after she claims it was her turn to be served and boldly scolds him for not waiting on others quickly enough. She also tells her uncle that Mr. Simms knocked her off the sidewalk.

Angered at this news, Hammer moves toward the door despite Mrs. Logan's attempts at intervention. She calls to him to not make unnecessary trouble.

"Unnecessary trouble! You think my brother died and I got my leg half blown off in their German war to have some red-neck knock Cassie around anytime it suits him? If I'd've knocked his girl down, you know what'd've happened to Me? Yeah, you know all right. Right now I'd be hanging from that oak over yonder. Let go of me, Mary."

Fortunately, Mr. Morrison has reached the Packard simultaneously with Hammer, and he jumps into the passenger seat. Chrstopher-John tells the others that Mr. Morrison will calm down their uncle and bring him back.

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Describe the character Uncle Hammer in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.

We are first introduced to Uncle Hammer in Chapter Six of this excellent novel, when the children come back to find a car that looks remarkably like Mr. Granger's car parked in their barn. Note how Uncle Hammer is presented as we are introduced to him:

Instead of Mr. Ganger, a tall, handsome man, nattily dressed in a grey pin-striped suit and vest, stood by the fire with his arm around Big Ma... Like Papa, he had dark, red-brown skin, a square-jawed face, and high cheekbones; yet there was a great difference between them somehow. His eyes, which showed a great warmth as he hugged and kissed us now, often had a cold, distant glaze, and there was an aloofness in him which the boys and I could never quite bridge.

As his name implies, there is a violence in Uncle Hammer's character against the racism that he and his family has to endure. This is of course why Mama does what she can to prevent Uncle Hammer from finding out about the way Cassie was slighted by Lillian Jean and her father. Notice how when he hears about this, his eyes "narrowed to thin, angry slits." He is a character that therefore captures the anger and rage of the way that blacks are treated by whites in this novel.

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Why did Uncle Hammer walk to the revival in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and what does this tell us about him?

Uncle Hammer walks to the revival because he sold his car to pay the mortgage on the farm. 

Uncle Hammer is very proud of his brand new Packard, which is a few months newer than that of the white landowners, the Grangers.  When he arrives from Chicago with the car and they ask him about it, Uncle Hammer is modest but direct.

Last year when I come down here, I was right impressed with that big Ole Packard of Mr. Harlan Filmore Granger’s and I thought I’d like to own one myself.  It seems like me and Harlan Granger just got the same taste. (ch 10, p. 119)

It is a matter of pride for Uncle Hammer to have the same car and slightly better than the Grangers.  Yet he cares about his family more than his pride.  He has something to sell, and the family is in need.  He even wants to stay to help the family earn money, but they are afraid he will get into fights and ask him to return to Chicago.

Citation:

Taylor, Mildred D. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. New York: Dial, 1976. Print.

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Why does Uncle Hammer visit the Logans in chapter 6 of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

Uncle Hammer comes to visit throughout Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. In chapter 6, he comes for Christmas to give the children gifts. Uncle Hammer is much younger than the children's mother and is also very wealthy. He comes in a nice new car which he uses as a display of wealth. Hammer has a sense of pride as well as a disgust for the way his family is treated by the white people in their town, so he takes the opportunity to drive them around in his fancy car so they will be seen with respect.

He gives the children new gifts, including a new coat for Little Man, and helps the family out because of their poverty. He typically comes in throughout the story and acts as a gift-giver and a benevolent caretaker for these children. Due to his age and wealth, however, he can be mischievous and get the family into trouble.

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