Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
How we cite our quotes:
"[The Berrys] live way on the other side of Smellings Creek. They come up to church sometimes." (1.32)
The Berrys can't just hop into their SUV or family van and drive on up from Smellings Creek. They kick it a bit more old school and probably either walk, or (if they're lucky) use a horse and wagon (like the Logans do). Why do you think the Berrys are willing to make this long and uncomfortable journey for church? What important functions does the church fulfill? What do you think the Berrys get out of attending?
The class buildings, with their backs practically against the forest wall, formed a semicircle facing a small one-room church at the opposite edge of the compound. It was to this church that many of the school's students and their parents belonged. (1.91)
The church is literally at the center of the Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School; all of the other buildings physically face it. The arrangement of the space suggests just how important church is to the community. And, don't forget that most of the school supplies and everything else is mostly paid for by church members.
At church the next morning, Mrs. Silas Lanier leaned across me and whispered to Big Ma, 'John Henry Berry died last night." When the announcement was made to the congregation, the deacon prayed for the soul of John Henry Berry and the recovery of his brother, Beacon, and his uncle, Mr. Samuel Berry. But after church, when some of the members stopped by the house to visit, angry hopeless words were spoken (2.51)
A jumping social joint might not be the first descriptor to pop into your head when you think of church. Here, though, we see that it stands at the heart of the social network in the black community, so lots of social activities take place there. It's a place where important news travels and where people can take comfort in each other.