Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Justice and Injustice Theme
Welcome to the point of the entire novel. In Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, the African-American characters have to persevere against many kinds of injustice caused by the racist oppression in the South during this time. From small injustices, like being ignored in the grocery store in favor of white people, to much more serious ones, like being burned alive for speaking to a white woman, part of building character and growing up in this novel is learning how to cope with these injustices while retaining your self-respect and dignity.
Questions About Justice and Injustice
- In what ways does Mildred D. Taylor make the issue of justice and injustice much more than a black and white issue? Consider Cassie's fight with Lillian Jean and T.J.'s mistakes.
- Which characters represent true justice? What are the traits that make them ethical?
- What do you think about Mr. Morrison's point that "sometimes a person's gotta fight" (4.201)? Where in the novel do you see this justified?
- What do you think Uncle Hammer means when he says, "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?" (6.56). What do you think he's saying about the injustices of large-scale violence (WW I), and the smaller-scale violence of Mr. Simms "knock[ing] Cassie around"?
Chew on This
Cassie shouldn't have beaten up Lillian Jean. Her actions are a form of "vigilante justice," and similar in kind (though certainly not degree) as the Wallaces.
Lillian Jean gets exactly what she deserves from Cassie. After all, Papa said that Jesus advocated "turning the other cheek," but that he didn't mean to be a fool.