By Zachary W., 8th Grade
In Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor, the author depicts a deeply prejudiced white population of the 1930’s in Mississippi where most of the white characters think of themselves as superior to their black counterparts. Although too many whites look down on the blacks, progress and racial equality in this society are made possible through courage and persistence.
An exception to the whites’ prejudice is Jeremy whose efforts to make friends with Cassie and her brothers make him a hero. When the Logans are celebrating Christmas, Jeremy chooses to face the freezing cold in order to deliver gifts for the Logan family (104-105). Jeremy could be celebrating Christmas with his family in their nice warm house, but he risks his reputation with the community and puts himself out in the freezing cold to express his friendship towards the Logan children. Jeremy’s persistent efforts to befriend Cassie and her brothers are an act of courage.
Courage takes another form in Mr. Morrison and the Logan family who challenge the oppressive system where blacks subject themselves to whites. Mr. Morrison is bold when he moves a white man’s car off the road so that he can continue on in his wagon. These actions show Mr. Morrison’s determination to be free from physical or social barriers formed by the whites. When he lifts the car off the road, he knows that he could be punished, yet he doesn’t let that hinder him. Similarly, when the Logans hear about the Wallaces leading the murder of an innocent black male, they organize a group of farmers to boycott the Wallace’s store knowing that they could lose their land. Their goal is to run the store out of business and communicate their independence. They take action all the while knowing that they could be hurt. All in all, the severe risks and courageous actions of Mr. Morrison and the Logan family help in the fight to become equal with white people.
Not only does courage take its place in Mr. Morrison and Jeremy, we can see this same attribute in Mr. and Mrs. Logan when they take risks for the better of others. When Mr. Granger and the white men are about to hang T.J., Mr. Logan risks his land to save T.J.’s life. When Cassie finally understands the situation, she thinks to herself, “Why Mr. Jamison was afraid for Papa to go into town. Papa had found a way, as Mama had asked, to make Mr. Granger stop the hanging:he had started the fire” (273). In this challenging situation, not only does Mr. Logan risk burning his crops and his house, he risks his reputation with the whites. If the white men found out, Mr. Logan could face the same fate T.J. narrowly avoided. Similarly, Mrs. Logan shows her unrelenting courage when she risks her job to cover the demoralizing graph on the school textbooks that showed how blacks received old books from white schools. This heroic action shows how Mrs. Logan values her students’ moral and wellbeing over her job. Through their actions, we can see that courage pumps through the blood of Mr. and Mrs. Logan.
With all this in mind, Roll of Thunder is inevitably a book full of courageous characters that strive to make progress in their communities and cities. Even though immediate progress is not possible, with persistence and courage, black people can slowly thaw the layer of hatred dividing them from their white counterparts. Because of the persistent efforts of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and other civil rights advocates, we can live in a just society. They courageously worked to strike down segregation laws, and even though the journey was painful and slow, their mission was accomplished. My message for you: be heroic, don’t quit, take risks, and most of all, help the world.