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Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

by Mildred D. Taylor

Race Theme

Welcome to Mississippi, circa 1933. Bad news: We're stuck squarely in the era of the American South's segregation and Jim Crow laws. We're hanging out with these characters before the Civil Rights movement. Way before. So, issues relating to race are a major concern in this novel.

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry shows us the many injustices inflicted upon blacks by the white ruling class. But, Taylor also provides some examples of non-racist whites, as well. Big Picture Alert: The novel shows how a major part of living as a black person in this time and place was learning how to navigate the unfair system without having it crush you and your dignity.

Questions About Race

  1. Why does Taylor go out of her way to point out that the Mississippi flag (which incorporates the Confederate flag) flies higher than the American flag at Jefferson Davis County School?
  2. Cassie's quite shocked at how she is treated during her trip to Strawberry—first by Mr. Barnett, and then by Mr. Simms. What surprises her so much about this treatment? What do you think has allowed her to not experience this so far in her life?
  3. What types of danger do the African-Americans face in the South just because of their ethnicity?
  4. Do you think the novel stereotypes any black or white characters? Let's say some are stereotyped. Which ones, and what is the effect?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Papa is right: Stacey and Jeremy can never be true friends because their different races set them too far apart.

Stacey's and Mama's actions against racism in the novel are quite similar to the civil disobedience of the Civil Rights movement.

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