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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

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What is the climax of "Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry"?

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The climax of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry comes when the night riders try to lynch T.J. Avery, a friend of the children who has been involved in a robbery.  Stacey quickly sends the other children to warn the Logans that the crowd will come to their house next.  David Logan is very resourceful and decides to set fire to his own cotton field, which borders Harlan Granger's land, and the mob rushes to put it out.  The community fights the fire through the night; both black and white, men and women help fight the fire.

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What is the falling action in "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry"?

The falling action in a story is everything that occurs after the climax.  In this book, the climax comes very close to the end of the, when the night riders come to lynch T.J. and David Logan sets fire to his own cotton to create a diversion and defuse the situation.  All of this occurs in Chapter 11 and the beginning of Chapter 12, the last chapter in the book; the brief section after these events is the falling action and resolution.

The falling action begins when the rains come down, putting out the fire which was supposedly started by lightning.  An explanation of exactly what has transpired begins to reveal itself, and Cassie learns that for a brief period, the people of the area put aside their differences to fight for a common cause - saving the land.  Papa, Mr. Morrison, and Stacey come home safely, and for the moment, T.J. is safely within the hands of the law.  From Stacey's silence and by putting two-and-two together, Cassie realizes that Papa set the fire himself in a desperate attempt to prevent T.J. from being lynched, and that this is a secret which must be kept at all costs.    

The falling action ends in a bitter resolution.  Though T.J. is safe for now, Cassie understands that in the atmosphere of inequality which exists in the South, T.J. will most likely be executed at the hands of the law for a crime he did not commit.  For now, Cassie can only "(cry) for T.J....T.J. and the land" (Chapter 12).

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What is the rising action in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

There are many theories of dramatic structure that include "rising action." For the sake of this answer, I will use Freytag's Pyramid, specifically, to analyze the plot of this story. In Freytag's Pyramid, there are five segments to consider: exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and conclusion. The rising action is defined as the portion of the plot that builds up to the climax. During the rising action, the author builds on initial exposition by using developing relationships, twists and turns, and various conflicts that lead the reader to the climax of the story: i.e. when all of these elements come to a head.

In Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the conflict begins to build with the description of the differences between the treatment of black and white families. The black families are dependent on the white families who own businesses (like the Wallaces' store). When the Wallaces start leading night raids and allowing miscreant behavior, Mama calls for a boycott of the store, which causes unrest between the communities. When word gets out that Mama suggested the boycott, Papa is shot in retribution. When Mr. Morrison beats up some white men, it's feared that the Wallaces' night raiders will come for him next.

From these events, we can see a building tension from one incident to the next—which is why this is called the "rising" action.

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What is the rising action in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

In general, the constant rising action of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is two-fold: One concerns the attempts by the Grangers to reclaim their former lands from the Logan family. The second concerns the Wallace family's attempts to maintain black interests in their store by terrorizing black families at night. The specific rising action takes place when the lynch mob sets out to find T. J. Avery, who has been blamed for the break-in and assault at the Barnett store. The mob also decides to include the Logans' friend, Mr. Morrision, to their list of prospective victims. The action climaxes when the cotton field is set on fire, which serves to diffuse the lynch mob.

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What is the climax of Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

Let us remember that the climax of the story is the moment of greatest emotional intensity that the rising action leads up to. Undoubtedly the climax of this great story comes when Cassie and her brothers take T. J. back to his home after his involvement in the crime that the Simms brothers perpetrated against the Barnetts. Note too that the weather indicates that this is the climax with the massive storm that is about to burst. Having returned T. J. to his home, the narrator and her brothers watch and listen terrified as a group of white men go to T. J.'s house and drag him out, then threaten to go on to the Logan's house and hang Mr. Morrison. The sherrif of course tries to do his best to prevent them, but it is clear that the rage of the mob of white men, like the storm that is just about to be unleashed, has been kindled by the act of violence against the Barnetts. Note how chapter eleven ends with the linking of the weather to the action in this chapter:

Thunder crashed against the corners of the world and lightning split the sky as we reached the road, but we did not stop. We dared not. We had to reach Papa.

Long nursed grudges are now able to be settled and the Logan children recognise that their way of life and family existence is in danger.

How this situation is resolved is part of the resolution of this great novel.

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What is the conclusion to the story Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

There is not a "pat" answer to the conclusion of the novel.  Although all of the Logan's have an inner strength and have come through violent storms (both weather-related and emotional), the family knows that the troubles, like the rain, are cyclical.  T.J. in particular knows that though the beating and arrest are behind him, the problems of racism are sure to return again, like the wind, the dust, and the rain.  Still, the family, after their turbulent year, feels better equipped to deal with the problems that are sure to come their way. 

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What is the turning point of the story Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

The turning point is basically like the climax when T. J. Avery becomes involved in a robbery and assault with two white boys he considers friends. The boys go too far, and when T. J. tries to get out of it, he is beaten up by his so-called "friends" , who wear masks to conceal their identity.  The blame for the robbery falls onto T. J.causing a group of angry white men to attack the  Avery house intent on hanging T. J.  David Logan, Cassie's father, determined to stop them, sets his own cotton on fire to distract the landowners and prevent the hanging.

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What is the turning point of the story Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

I would say a major turning point is when black and white people work together to put out the fire. The whites, of course, are the same people who had threated the lives and businesses of the blacks, but under these dire circumstances, they come together for the common good of the community.  It shows that racial harmony is not just a dream, but a real possibility. 

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What's the rising action in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry?

The importance of keeping the ownership of the four hundred acres of Logan family land is central to the rising action (events of the story leading up to the climax) of Mildred Taylor's novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. Originally owned by the white Granger family before the Civil War, the acreage, now held by the black Logan family, is still a matter of contention to the wealthy Harlan Granger, present day proprietor of the adjacent land. The Logans' struggles to make ends meet and their mortgage payment each month in Depression era Mississippi, while also avoiding the wrath of the "night riders," culminates in the final chapter.  

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