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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry


by Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Chapter 4 Summary

  • It's Sunday, and Cassie is helping Big Ma churn butter.
  • She overhears Mama and Big Ma talking about how the children have been acting unlike themselves lately.
  • They seem to be especially worried about Cassie, and are afraid that she has seen something scary—like maybe the night men?
  • Cassie almost falls off of a stool while she's listening to this, and breaks a butter mold. Oops.
  • She goes in to hang out with the boys. T.J. is extolling the virtues of getting out of doing work. He's apparently pretty lazy.
  • He again tries to get Stacey to give him the questions to the upcoming test in Mrs. Logan's class.
  • When that doesn't work, T.J. tries to get the others to go down to the Wallace store for dancing.
  • Okay, this T.J. kid sounds like bad news.
  • Again, the Logan children won't take his bait. So, he starts talking about the night men.
  • It turns out that the night men tarred and feathered Mr. Sam Tatum.
  • Apparently, Mr. Tatum had called Mr. Barnett (the owner of the general store in Strawberry) a liar.
  • Whew! It wasn't because of the bus then.
  • Oops. Christopher-John said that out loud, and now Little Man is afraid that they'll be tarred and feathered because of the bus stunt.
  • The kids catch T.J. snooping through Mama's room, probably looking for the test questions he's always on about.
  • A bit of time passes, and Cassie, Little Man and Christopher-John want to visit Mr. Morrison. He now lives in a small shack on the Logan property that the kids clean for him sometimes.
  • Anyone else thinking Hagrid, here? Gentle giant, living in a shack, friends with an intrepid band of kids?
  • We find out that all of the Logan children genuinely like Mr. Morrison. Well, except for Stacey.
  • Stacey thinks that Mr. Morrison is taking his place as "man of the house" while Papa is away. And "Man of the House" is obviously Stacey's job. As a seventh grader.
  • The next day, on the way to school, T.J.'s all, "I'm going to cheat on the history test." He even has a cheat sheet, full of dates and other 411.
  • This sounds like a Very Bad Plan.
  • Stacey ain't havin' it, though, and rips that cheat sheet to shreds. No one makes a fool out of Mama.
  • Here's hoping this means T.J.'s plan has been thwarted.
  • We get the impression that Stacey honestly doesn't want T.J. to get into trouble for cheating.
  • After school, Cassie, Christopher-John, Little Man and Claude are waiting for their older brothers. They see T.J. run out of the classroom like something's wrong.
  • Little Willie Wiggins and Moe Turner tell them that Mrs. Logan whipped Stacey, because he was caught with cheat notes during the test.
  • The notes were actually T.J.'s, but Stacey wouldn't tell on him.
  • When Stacey comes out of the classroom, he's looking for T.J., who has gone to the Wallace store.
  • The kids ignore all of Papa's whipping threats and head over to Wallace store.
  • When they arrive there, the white men make racist remarks to the children.
  • This should not come as a big surprise: Stacey finds T.J. and starts beating him up.
  • Mr. Morrison is there, and breaks up the fight.
  • On the way back home, Mr. Morrison makes it clear that he's not going to tell Mama that the Logan kids had disobeyed and were down at the Wallace store. Whew!
  • Wait, what? He's instead going to make them tell this.
  • Big Life Lesson Alert: Mr. Morrison points out that sometimes you have to fight. There's no getting around it. But they really need to stay away from the Wallace place.
  • He again emphasizes that it's their responsibility to tell their mother about the incident, but he's leaving it up to them.
  • Ugh, fine. Stacey agrees to tell her.
  • As they drive up to their house, Mr. Granger's fancy car drives away.
  • Big Ma reports that Mr. Granger is scheming to get some of their land again.
  • Cassie and Big Ma stroll around their property, to a large grove of trees (some are cut down).
  • Big Ma tells Cassie the story of how the Logans got their land:
  • Paul Edward, Big Ma's husband, had bought two hundred acres of land from Mr. Hollenbeck.
  • Apparently, Filmore Granger (Harlan Granger's dad) had to sell their land after Reconstruction, because they had no money.
  • A guy named Mr. Hollenbeck purchased most of the land and then offered to sell it back to Filmore Granger for less than it was worth.
  • But Mr. Granger was really cheap, and refused it.
  • So, Mr. Hollenbeck sold it to whoever would buy it. Like Paul Edward.
  • Charles Jamison also bought some of it. We find out that Charles Jamison was the father of Wade Jamison, who Cassie calls "our Mr. Jamison" (4.227).
  • Wade Jamison sold another two hundred acres to Paul Edward (when he could have easily sold it for more money to Harlan Granger).
  • Wade sounds like a nice guy.
  • Big Ma talks more about the family's history: how she and Paul Edward raised six children (although only two are still alive), and worked hard on the land.
  • The family's "blood's in this land" (4.236), even though Harlan Granger is always trying to get the land back.
  • When Mama gets home that night, Stacey confesses about the incident at the Wallace store.
  • Stacey's code of honor comes into play here: he only tells enough of the story to be truthful, and doesn't implicate Cassie, Christopher-John or Little Man.
  • Still, it's off to bed early as punishment.
  • The next morning, Mama loads all of the kids into the wagon bright and early.
  • They're off to visit a very sick man who "doesn't look like other people" (4.245).
  • The Logans bring them a variety of food and supplies. Clearly, this family is poor.
  • It's Mr. Berry, one of the burn victims. He's so badly injured that he can't speak and doesn't even look human any more.
  • It turns out that the Wallaces participated in the burning. Okay, it makes sense why Papa and Mama were so against their kids hanging out at the Wallace store.
  • On the way home, the Logans stop off at a bunch of other people's houses.
  • At each stop, Mama warns the people against the bad influence of the Wallaces and their store, which promotes drinking and smoking.
  • She doesn't, however, directly mention what the Wallaces did to the Berrys. There seems to be some danger in coming right out and saying this.
  • When they visit the Turner farm, we find out that some of the people have no choice about shopping at the Wallace store.
  • Mama tells them that her family shops in Vicksburg. This seems to be completely out of reach for the Turner family, since it would require an overnight trip.
  • Mama asks them if they would consider shopping there if someone could make the trip for them.
  • This won't work. Since the Turner's landowners have credit at the Wallace store, they're basically forced to shop there. These are very poor people who don't have any cash.
  • Plus, Mr. Montier (who owns the Turner land) charges 15% extra for "risk money" for signing for the Turners to have credit.
  • Mr. Turner points out that the Logans are in a better position, because they own their own land.
  • Mama comes up with the idea of someone else backing the Turners' credit. If she could find someone to do that, would they shop elsewhere?
  • Mr. Turner tells how he was burned accidentally as a child, and how badly that hurt. He thinks it would be a horrible way to die.

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