Study Guide

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Summary

It's October 1933 and back-to-school time for Cassie Logan and her three brothers. Wait, what? Back to school in October? You might ask, "How can I get in on that late back-to-school action?"

Don't be jealous. We soon find out that these children start school late because they're poor African Americans living in rural Mississippi, and their hard labor is needed on the family farm. That's why their school year is shortened—it starts late and lets out early. Plus, no fun back-to-school shopping for these kids.

On the way to school, the Logan kids hear about how three local black men were burned (yes, literally—and two to death) by a white family for supposedly "flirting" with a white woman. Shortly after this happens, Papa (Cassie's father) returns from his job at the railroad and brings with him a enormous man, L.T. Morrison. He's going to stay with the family for a while, because of the recent burnings and lynchings in the area. Papa wants his family protected while he's away working.

As the school year progresses, the kids get some pretty nasty lessons in racism. And it turns out that the Wallace family is behind the burnings. These guys own the local store that many of the black sharecroppers are forced to shop at. Luckily, the Logans are a bit better off than the other black families, because they own their own land and have cash to spend. Papa tells Cassie over and over how important this is, and that he will pretty much do anything to keep the land in the family.

So, Mama (Cassie's mom) organizes a boycott of the Wallace store and arranges for the local black families to get credit from a store in Vicksburg, the nearby biggest town. Bad move. The boycott doesn't go over too well with the Wallaces. On their way back from Vicksburg, Papa Logan, Mr. Morrison, and Stacey (Cassie's older brother) are attacked by the Wallace brothers. Big mistake #2, but this time for the Wallaces: the huge Mr. Morrison roughs them up pretty badly (he almost breaks one's back). In the process, Papa is shot (luckily not fatally) and ends up with a broken leg when the horse wagon falls on it. And then, Mama gets fired from her teaching position because of the boycott.

One night, the Logans' friend T.J. breaks into the Barnett store, egged on by some white kids. The Wallaces find out and are moments away from hanging him for his supposed crime when a fire starts on some nearby land. Everyone runs off to put out the fire, and it turns out that Papa started the fire to prevent T.J. from being killed by the lynch mob.

Sadly, his action may not do any good. T.J. is blamed for the death of a white man, and he'll either be put on a chain gang or hanged for murder. Plus, it looks like the Logans might lose their land because Pa burned part of his own cotton crop. Talk about a bummer of an ending.

  • Chapter 1

    • Our narrator (Cassie) and her three brothers (Little Man, Stacey and Christopher-John) are walking to school on the first day of school for the year.
    • What, did they run out of names by the time they got to Little Man?
    • Stacey and Cassie are not happy to be returning to school. Stacey is especially unhappy that he's going to be in his mother's class this year.
    • Time for some exposition: We learn that, long ago, Cassie's grandfather had purchased 400 acres of land from the white Granger family.
    • This land is valuable and productive, and the family makes some extra money by farming cotton.
    • But: one 200-acre plot has been mortgaged, and there are taxes on the other 200 acres. The family is having some trouble paying the debts, because cotton prices are low (thanks, Great Depression).
    • To make extra money Cassie's father had "gone to work on the railroad" (1.15).
    • Presumably, all the livelong day.
    • Papa has emphasized that doing this work and making sacrifices (like not having new clothes) is important, so that the Logan family can keep their land.
    • The Logan kids meet up with T.J. Avery and his little brother, Claude. They're really poor (you can tell by their lack of shoes and how skinny they are), and we find out that they sharecrop on Logan land.
    • T.J. hints around to Stacey that he might work the whole Mom-as-teacher angle and find out in advance what will be on tests.
    • After Stacey shuts down this plan (good job, Stacey!), T.J. reveals that there has been a "burning" the previous night (1.27).
    • Ooh, this doesn't sound good at all.
    • And it's not. Mr. Berry and his two nephews (a family that lives nearby) were burned almost to death by some white men.
    • Cassie makes it clear she doesn't like T.J. very much. Oh, and neither does Little Man. Or Christopher-John, for that matter.
    • It soon becomes clear why: T.J. recounts an incident where he almost got in trouble for going to a "dancing room" at a local store.
    • To save himself from getting in trouble, T.J. told his mother that the only reason he was at the store was because Claude had snuck off to get some candy.
    • Claude was beaten for this, which T.J. thinks is pretty funny.
    • Suddenly, Stacey yells at everyone to get off the road (1.64). Wait—what's going on?
    • The kids all climb up the bank alongside the road and head into the forest.
    • A bus full of white children comes flying down the road, sending clouds of red dust everywhere.
    • Little Man is angry that his clothes are now ruined from the red dust.
    • We find out that the African-American children don't have a school bus. Instead, they're stuck walking several miles to and from school each day.
    • Hm, sounds like that "separate but equal" thing isn't working out too well.
    • Here comes Jeremy. He's a white boy who risks being an outcast among the other white kids so he can hang out with Cassie and her brothers. He walks part of the way to school with them every day.
    • It's starting to look like the school Jeremy goes to is just for white children.
    • For some reason, Jeremy's school year starts earlier than the school Cassie and her brothers attend. This kind of doesn't make any sense.
    • Reader suspicions confirmed: We find out that the white children attend the Jefferson Davis County School, while the black children go somewhere else.
    • Jefferson Davis County School flies the Mississippi flag higher than the American flag (1.89).
    • Cassie and her friends go to the Great Faith Elementary and Secondary School—for black children.
    • And now the school-year issue that Jeremy raised starts to make more sense: most of the black children have to help their families by working in the cotton fields, so their school term starts later and gets out earlier (1.91).
    • Plus, some of the older kids work in the fields through November. Most of them end up dropping out of school altogether.
    • None of the kids that Cassie sees in the schoolyard have on new clothes, except for the principal's daughter, Mary Lou Wellever.
    • In fact, we find out that after the first day of school, the kids lucky enough to have shoes won't be wearing them again until it gets cold. These families really are that poor.
    • One friend of Stacey's, Moe Turner, has a three-and-a-half hour walk to school. One way.
    • Seriously, we would probably just give up at that point.
    • We find out that Cassie is in the fourth grade.
    • When she rushes into the classroom and tries to sit down, Gracey Pearson doesn't want to let her, because she's saving the seat for Mary Lou.
    • Guess some things are timeless—like mean girls.
    • Cassie sits there anyway. Good on you, Cassie!
    • First-graders and fourth-graders share the same classroom and the same teacher, although the grades are separated by a curtain that runs down the center of the room.
    • And you thought that today's educational cuts were bad.
    • We learn that the first grade teacher, Miss Davis, has been "held up in Jackson for a few days" (1.105).
    • Cassie gets in trouble for not responding with the rest of the group that she's willing to share teachers.
    • Miss Crocker has a big announcement: All of the students will have books this year.
    • Woohoo! Wait, what? Why is this news?
    • Most of the students have "never handled a book before" (1.119).
    • The quality of the books leaves a little something to be desired, since they're all worn out and damaged.
    • Little Man causes a disturbance by—gasp!—asking for a different book. His is dirty and has been marked up.
    • He ends up taking the book he was originally given, and Miss Crocker accuses him of putting on airs (basically, acting really snooty).
    • Little Man sees something on the inside book cover that he apparently doesn't like. Okay, so that's a bit of an understatement. He flings the book to the floor and starts stomping on it.
    • Miss Crocker threatens to whip Little Man.
    • Cassie checks it out and sees what has Little Man so upset.
    • It's a chart showing a year-by-year record of who the book had been checked out to and the book's condition. The condition progresses from "New," to "Excellent," to "Very Good," and then to "Good," and on down to "Average," "Poor," and finally "Very Poor" (1.Figure 1).
    • And the race of the student is also recorded. The book has been checked out to white children until the book's condition was graded "Very Poor," at which point the student's race became "nigra."
    • Brain snack: This and other racial slurs in the novel reflect the time in which the novel is set. It's how people really would have talked and thought. Plus, Taylor is trying to show the racial hatred that was widespread in the Depression-era South.
    • So this is what Little Man was reacting to.
    • We learn that Little Man can read (at age six) well enough to understand what is written in the book condition list.
    • Miss Crocker doesn't seem to care. She just tells Cassie, "That's what you are" (1.148).
    • And Little Man gets whipped.
    • When Cassie rejects her book, she is also whipped.
    • Cassie overhears Miss Crocker telling her (Cassie's) mother about how she and Little Man rejected the "perfectly good" books (1.156).
    • Cassie's mom seems quite unbothered that her children reacted in that way to the books. This doesn't make Miss Crocker happy.
    • Mrs. Logan glues plain brown paper over the offending checkout lists on the two books.
    • She tells Miss Crocker that maybe people shouldn't just accept the way things are.
    • Apparently, Mrs. Logan is considered a "radical" at the school.
    • She plans to do the same to all of the seventh-grade books.
  • Chapter 2

    • Cassie's with her bros, toiling away picking cotton on the farm when Papa shows up. He's home from his job on the railroad, and everyone's super pumped to see him.
    • But, he's not alone. There's a huge—and we mean huge—guy with him.
    • We find out that Cassie's mom had sent her husband a letter, asking him to come home.
    • Papa can't stay home longer than one day, or he might lose his job working on the railroad, but he's going to leave behind a little security system.
    • Okay, not so little: the security system is L.T. Morrison, the giant. He's going to stay with them for a while, working as their hired hand.
    • It turns out that Mr. Morrison was fired from his previous job, because he got into a fight with some white men.
    • It probably won't surprise you that the white dudes didn't get fired.
    • Mama says something that sounds pretty ominous: "[W]e're glad to have you here...especially now" (2.39).
    • Later, Cassie discusses the situation with her brothers. They all figure that Mr. Morrison's arrival has something to do with the burnings.
    • The next morning at church, Cassie learns that John Henry Berry (one of the men who had been burned) has died. Ugh.
    • Here's the story about the Berrys, told by Mrs. Lanier:
    • John Henry and his brother Beacon were in the nearby town of Strawberry getting gas.
    • A couple of white men started trouble with them, accusing them of flirting with Sallie Ann. We get the strong impression that Sallie Ann is white.
    • The men chased the Berry brothers to their uncle Samuel's house, and then dragged all three out and lit them on fire.
    • After Mrs. Lanier finishes the story, Mr. Avery tells the group that a boy was lynched in another town a few days ago.
    • We learn that the sheriff won't even listen to Henrietta Toggins (an eyewitness to part of the attack). The white men are actually going around bragging about it, but no one's doing anything.
    • The men are also threatening to do this to any other 'uppity nigger who get[s] out of line' (2.58).
    • Charming.
    • Papa makes what seems to be a random comment: "In this family, we don't shop at the Wallace store" (2.60). Cassie and her brothers don't understand this, and neither do we. Maybe the Wallaces have something to do with the attack?
    • After the guests leave, Papa breaks things down for the kids. Lots of trouble comes from the Wallace store (like underage drinking and smoking). Plus, he just doesn't like the Wallaces.
    • Papa threatens to "wear y'all out" if he hears of any of his kids up at the Wallace store.
    • In other words, he's going to whip them.
  • Chapter 3

    • It's October, and the weather turns rainy. This makes it an even bigger pain for the Logan children to walk to school.
    • The kids don't only have to worry about getting drenched (and wearing smelly dried calfskins to protect them from the rain), but they also have to worry about getting mud-splattered by the Jefferson Davis school bus, which won't slow down to prevent this.
    • Little Man is especially upset by this, since he's very picky about his appearance.
    • One day, the children try to "outwit" the bus: they try to tell when the bus will arrive, so they can hide in the bushes and avoid the usual mud drenching.
    • This plan doesn't work very well. The children are drenched more than usual, and the bus actually comes dangerously close to running them down.
    • Jeremy Simms (the white kid) meets up with the kids after this drenching, and Stacey takes his anger out on him.
    • But Jeremy makes it clear that he likes the Logans and likes being with them.
    • Stacey seems to have a plan...for something. He asks the others to meet him in the toolshed of the school at lunchtime.
    • Oh: he has a plan to stop the bus from splashing them.
    • But T.J. and Claude won't be invited to help out with this plan, since they wouldn't be able to keep their mouths shut about it.
    • At lunchtime, the kids who are in on the plan walk to where the bus forced them off the road that morning.
    • They dig a big hole in the middle of the road, making it look like the storm washed out the road.
    • After school, the kids rush out to the road to see what will happen to the bus. The hole now looks like a "twelve-foot lake" in the middle of the road (3.76).
    • The bus comes down the road, drives right into the watery hole and … gets stuck. Victory!
    • Bus driver Mr. Grimes is pretty mad. The white kids are going to have to walk home. In fact they will have to walk to and from school for about two weeks, until the bus can be fixed.
    • At dinner that night, Mama tells Big Ma about the bus accident. She has no idea her kids were involved, natch.
    • Mama's glad no one was hurt in the incident… but she's glad it happened.
    • For the rest of the evening, the Logan kids can't stop laughing about the bus getting stuck.
    • Suddenly, there is a knock at the door. Uh-oh. Are the kids going to get in trouble?
    • No. But it's not good news. It's Joe Avery, bringing news about a mysterious "they" who are "riding" tonight (3.135).
    • Mama sends the kids to bed, but Cassie sneaks into her brothers' room so she can hear what the adults are talking about.
    • Apparently, the "night men" are riding, and Mr. Avery doesn't know why.
    • Big Ma mentions that something must have happened to set them off.
    • Cassie thinks that these men know about the bus accident and know that the Logans had something to do with it.
    • The kids make a pact to never tell anyone what happened. They must keep it a secret.
    • Cassie goes back into her own room just as Big Ma comes in.
    • While Cassie pretends to sleep, she hears Stacey ask Mama if he can help with "whatever's the matter" (3.187).
    • Of course, Mama refuses. Whatever is going on is very serious. Plus, it sounds super dangerous.
    • You can tell it's serious when Big Ma takes a rifle from underneath her and Cassie's bed.
    • Big Ma returns and sits at a chair at the window, keeping watch.
    • Cassie wakes up in the middle of the night, and Big Ma is gone.
    • When she rushes outside to see what's going down, a whole bunch of cars roll up into their yard.
    • Two guys get out, and things are looking Very Not Good.
    • But then, suddenly, they all take off, like they got the wrong house. Whew. Crisis seems to be averted—at least for their family.
    • Still, Cassie's a bit more than terrified as she heads back to bed.
  • Chapter 4

    • 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.
  • Chapter 5

    • It's time to go to market in Strawberry, and Big Ma takes T.J., Stacey, and Cassie with her. It's the first time Cassie has been allowed to go. Exciting!
    • Big Ma has to take T.J. with her, since Mr. Avery asked if she would take T.J. to pick up some items in Strawberry that they couldn't get at the Wallace store.
    • And now the reason why Cassie is allowed to go becomes clear: Big Ma doesn't want to ride for twenty-two miles listening to T.J.'s unceasing chatter.
    • Strawberry is nothing like what Cassie imagines. It's a small, run-down, muddy town.
    • When they arrive at the marketplace, Big Ma pulls the wagon all the way to the back.
    • Cassie can't figure out why they have to go all the way to the back when they'd obviously get more business right up front. Well, duh: "Them's white folks' wagons" (5.17).
    • After the market ends, Big Ma has an appointment with Mr. Wade Jamison. We find out that Cassie respects him: he is the only white man who calls Mama and Big Ma by "Missus" (5.25). Plus, he's kind of like Papa.
    • T.J. asks Cassie and Stacey to go with him to the mercantile. This is a fancy way of saying "country store."
    • Stacey doesn't think this is a very good idea, since Big Ma wanted to go with them, but the kids do so anyway.
    • We're starting to get the sense than anything T.J. suggests is a bad idea.
    • In the store, T.J. admires a pearl-handled gun. No one would mess with him if he had that gun.
    • T.J. gives his list of items to Mr. Barnett, the store owner. It does not include a pearl-handled gun.
    • In the middle of filling T.J.'s order, a white woman comes in. Mr. Barnett stops filling T.J.'s order to help her.
    • Cassie objects to this, and Stacey tells her to be quiet.
    • After helping the white woman, Mr. Barnett returns to T.J.'s order. This time, he gets interrupted by a little white girl buying pork chops.
    • Cassie gets really mad (and really, who could blame her?), and thinks it's just completely ridiculous for Mr. Barnett to help another child before T.J. She can understand him helping an adult first, but not a child.
    • Cassie decides to intervene, and tells Mr. Barnett that T.J. was waiting and he was in line first.
    • Mr. Barnett is not cool with this, and yells out for Cassie's mother. Well, he says this in much more demeaning terms: "Whose little nigger is this?" (5.62).
    • Cassie bites back, letting him know that the situation is unfair.
    • Mr. Barnett makes Stacey take Cassie out of the store.
    • After they leave the store, Cassie runs into Lillian Jean Simms. No, really: she literally runs into her.
    • Cassie refuses to apologize for this, and Mr. Simms basically makes her (after grabbing her hard by the arm).
    • Big Ma comes onto the scene, and makes Cassie apologize.
    • Guess that trip to Strawberry wasn't so much fun, after all.
  • Chapter 6

    • When they get home, Stacey tells Cassie to not blame Big Ma for making her apologize. There are some things that Cassie just doesn't understand.
    • On their way into the house, they see Mr. Granger's car in their barn. How weird. And a little scary.
    • But no! It's actually great news, because Uncle Hammer has come for a visit. The car in the barn is Uncle Hammer's. Plus, it's better than Mr. Granger's, because it's a newer Packard.
    • Uncle Hammer asks Cassie about her first trip to Strawberry, but when she starts to tell him about it, Big Ma sends Cassie into the kitchen to get dinner.
    • For some reason, Big Ma doesn't like the idea of Uncle Hammer finding out what happened with Mr. Simms.
    • Mama tells Cassie that she (Mama) will get dinner, and that Cassie should stay and tell Uncle Hammer about the trip.
    • So, Cassie tells him about Mr. Barnett helping others before T.J., and how she told Mr. Barnett that this wasn't right.
    • Uncle Hammer seems amused by this, while Big Ma (who has not yet heard this) is quite less-than-amused.
    • When Cassie starts to tell him about the incident with Lillian Jean and her dad, Big Ma again tries to interrupt.
    • It's no use, though, and Cassie tells the whole story.
    • Now, it starts to make sense why Big Ma did not want Uncle Hammer to know about how Mr. Simms manhandled Cassie in the street.
    • Uncle Hammer gets really mad.
    • And, he apparently has a gun.
    • Time to call in the big guns: Mr. Morrison.
    • Still angry, Uncle Hammer hops into the Packard with Mr. Morrison, and they roar away.
    • Christopher-John is confident that Mr. Morrison will talk some sense into their uncle, but Little Man and Cassie hope their Uncle will knock some sense into Mr. Simms.
    • When Cassie goes to bed, Mama comes in for a little mother-daughter heart-to-heart. She tells Cassie that Big Ma just didn't want to see Cassie get hurt.
    • But Cassie doesn't understand why Mr. Simms thinks Lillian Jean is better than she is.
    • Another Big Life Lesson Alert: Mama tells Cassie that, "Everybody born on this earth is something and nobody, no matter what color, is better than anybody else" (6.85).
    • She explains why the white people think they're better than the black people: to make themselves feel big.
    • Mama tells Cassie about how slaves were regarded as less than human, and how some Christian beliefs even supported this view.
    • Even though the Civil War ended slavery, some people still believe that black people are lesser than white people.
    • And people like Mr. Simms hold even more strongly onto these beliefs because they don't really have anything else to hold onto.
    • The clicking sound you just heard is everything falling into place for Cassie.
    • This whole situation—the Logans' lot in life—has been created just because some white people think they're better than black people, all because of their skin color. Talk about a wake-up call.
    • Mama tells Cassie that the respect she was forced to give Lillian Jean really wasn't respect at all. True respect is freely given.
    • The next morning, Uncle Hammer and Mr. Morrison are eating breakfast. So, all is well and nothing appears to have happened the previous night.
    • Here's exciting news: Uncle Hammer is driving everyone to church in his new car.
    • Cassie asks her mom to fix her a "grown-up hairdo" for church (6.105).
    • Cassie wants her hair fixed like Mama's, but Mama tells her that's still a few years off yet.
    • It turns out that Mr. Morrison talked to Uncle Hammer all night long, and kept him from doing anything rash to Mr. Simms.
    • Cassie's a little disappointed. Stacey tells her that she had better be glad that Uncle Hammer didn't do anything, since it might have gotten him killed.
    • It seems like Cassie still doesn't really understand the seriousness of the situation.
    • Before they go to church, Uncle Hammer notices that Stacey's coat is too small. Early Christmas present time! Yep, it's a new wool coat.
    • The family all get into Uncle Hammer's sleek car and head off to church, where T.J. makes fun of the coat, saying it makes Stacey look like a "fat preacher" (6.147).
    • Jelly, much?
    • After church, Uncle Hammer takes the family for a ride up to Strawberry and back.
    • When they drive past the Wallace store, Uncle Hammer makes an idle threat to burn the place down.
    • At the bridge crossing, another car is trying to cross (the bridge is so narrow that only one car at a time can pass).
    • It's clear that since a white family is driving in the other car, Uncle Hammer is supposed to give way, but instead he guns it and speeds over the bridge first.
    • Big Ma points out that the family will think the car belongs to Mr. Granger.
    • Well, until they see him on the other side. And it's the Wallaces. Oops. Mama ends the chapter with an ominous prediction: "But one day we'll have to pay for it" (6.170).
  • Chapter 7

    • Stacey has given his coat to T.J., since he is sick of T.J. making fun of him. Suddenly, T.J. doesn't think it looks like it belongs to a fat preacher anymore. Instead, it's the best coat in the world.
    • Uncle Hammer thinks Stacey is an idiot for doing this, and won't make him get the coat back from T.J.
    • He tries to teach Stacey a lesson about T.J.: that he's one of those people Stacey will meet in life who will just want to drag him down.
    • It's clear Stacey isn't ready to accept this yet.
    • Meanwhile, in elementary-school feuds, Lillian Jean has been flouncing around Cassie with a bit more snottiness than usual.
    • Cassie contemplates taking down both Lillian Jean and T.J. for their rude behavior.
    • On the day before Christmas, Papa returns from his railroad job.
    • On Christmas Eve, amidst the holiday scents of foods baking and sizzling, Papa, Uncle Hammer, Big Ma, and Mr. Morrison all tell stories of their youths and their families.
    • We love family stories!
    • Oh. But these family stories aren't all great. Here's a sad story from Mr. Morrison: his parents were killed by night men on Christmas, because a white woman accused their neighbors of "molesting" her (7.44).
    • The night men killed the people with swords, and then burned their houses down.
    • Mr. Morrison's mother couldn't save his sisters, but she threw Mr. Morrison out of the house before he could be burned.
    • We find out that Mr. Morrison's parents were what is called "breeded stock." This means they were slaves who were bred as if they were farm animals, for particular traits (here, strength).
    • Okay, we feel a little sick now.
    • Mr. Morrison's mom and dad fought the night men hard, but still died. He was only six years old when this happened.
    • Cassie wakes up in the middle of the night to hear the adults talking.
    • Big Ma is saying that they shouldn't be "messin' with these folks down in here" (7.57).
    • But Mama is majorly ticked off. She doesn't want members of the black community shopping at the Wallace store, since it's corrupting their children and adding liquor charges to the families' bills.
    • Uncle Hammer is for more direct action: he wants to burn them out.
    • Apparently, Big Ma is taking some kind of legal action so that there's no way Mr. Granger will pull some kind of trick and take the land when she passes away.
    • She is afraid to use the land to back other people's credit so they can shop in Vicksburg.
    • Papa agrees: he wants to find another way to help out the others.
    • Papa sees Cassie has woken up, and takes her back to bed. He reassures her that they are not going to lose their land.
    • On Christmas morning, the Logan children each receive a book from Mama: Stacey: The Count of Monte Cristo; Cassie: The Three Musketeers; Christopher-John and Little Man: two volumes of Aesop's Fables.
    • What, no Millennium Falcon Lego set? Worst Christmas ever.
    • J/K: the children treasure the books, and they also get licorice, oranges, and bananas, as well as some clothing from Uncle Hammer.
    • After church, the Averys come to the Logans for Christmas dinner.
    • Toward the end of the evening, there is a knock at the door. It's Jeremy Simms. Um...awkward!
    • He brings a gift for Stacey: a handmade wooden flute. After Jeremy leaves, T.J. urges Stacey to get rid of the flute, but he refuses.
    • Papa hates to burst a good bubble, but he can't help but point out that being besties with a white boy is probably not an Awesome Idea.
    • Sure: while they're kiddos, it's all fine and dandy, but once they grow up, their different skin colors will create all sorts of problemos that will be just too hard to overcome.
    • But Stacey puts the flute Jeremy has made for him in his "box of treasured things" (7.111). Aw. That warms our icy hearts.
    • The day after Christmas, all of the Logan kids get a whipping from Papa because of their previous foray to the Wallace store.
    • Then the men take off to Vicksburg to take care of some mysterious business.
    • Mr. Jamison comes over after the Logan men return home. He brings a fruitcake and lemon drops for the kids.
    • Cassie sees the men and Mr. Jamison looking at a bunch of papers, and signing them.
    • She overhears Mr. Jamison say that once the papers are signed, the land will now be in Papa and Uncle Hammer's names, and not Big Ma's.
    • Before he leaves, Mr. Jamison brings up the fact that he's heard about the local people wanting to shop in Vicksburg. But why?
    • It turns out that Papa, Uncle Hammer and Mr. Morrison had gone into Vicksburg earlier that day to find out about getting credit so that about thirty families could shop there.
    • Surprisingly, Mr. Jamison offers to back the credit.
    • Uncle Hammer points out that if Mr. Jamison does this, he will be very unpopular. (With the white families. Probably pretty popular with the black families.)
    • Mr. Jamison counters by saying the same of the Logan family. He also points out that a lot of the white people around the area resent their independence because of their land.
    • Like Harlan Granger. If the Logans use their land to back the credit, Mr. Jamison warns them, Mr. Granger will take every opportunity to get the land back from them.
    • We find out that Mr. Granger also gets a share of the Wallace store's money, along with some of Mr. Montier's and Mr. Harrison's sharecroppers' money. If all of the sharecroppers stop shopping at the Wallace store, Mr. Granger will flip.
    • But, the biggest danger of boycotting the Wallace store would basically be accusing the Wallaces of the burnings and lynchings and saying that they should be punished for it.
    • Before he leaves, Mr. Jamison points out that the Logans can't ever win against the Grangers or the Wallaces.
    • Papa says that doesn't matter—they have to try. And maybe the kids will be able to succeed if the adults can't.
    • Several days later, Papa, Uncle Hammer and Mr. Morrison go to Vicksburg for two days, and return with a wagon loaded up with food and supplies. It seems that the boycott has started.
    • Uh-oh. Here comes Mr. Granger.
    • After Mr. Granger drives up in his slick car, he starts talking down to Uncle Hammer, calling him "citified," and accusing him of thinking he's too good to work in the fields (7.166).
    • Uncle Hammer basically schools Mr. Granger. He tells him that he can earn much more money working in the North for "man's wages" (7.167).
    • The difference between what Uncle Hammer makes working in the North and what people like Mr. Granger pay black men in the South is pret-ty clear.
    • There's a big threat war, and finally Mr. Granger leaves with the final word: there are lots of ways to stop Papa and Uncle Hammer from what they are doing.
  • Chapter 8

    • Cassie is being suspiciously nice to Lillian Jean. She offers to carry her books to school for her.
    • Okay, that's weird.
    • Meanwhile, T.J. is again nagging Stacey to get questions in advance of Mrs. Logan's final exams.
    • Sometime after New Year's Day, Cassie and Papa have a long talk in the woods.
    • Papa tells her that her temper could get her into trouble with the whole Lillian Jean situation.
    • He explains to Cassie that there will be a lot of things she will have to do throughout her life that she doesn't want to do. But she has to choose her actions and reactions based on whether or not she can live with the decisions she makes.
    • An example: if he had gotten into a fight with Mr. Simms because of what happened in Strawberry, the whole family would have been hurt.
    • But, he continues, there are other situations where if he did not act, he wouldn't be able to live with himself. Basically, sometimes you have to take a stand, Papa points out.
    • The Big Lesson™ Papa has is that, in the end the only respect that matters is the respect you have for yourself.
    • Papa continues with some ominous advice: Cassie needs to choose carefully how she will handle the Lillian Jean situation. If Papa has to get involved with Mr. Simms, there will be big trouble.
    • During January, Cassie behaves like she is Lillian Jean's personal servant. And she ends up hearing a lot of gossip.
    • On final examination day, Cassie runs out of the classroom, eager to meet Lillian Jean at the crossroads. Apparently, she has some kind of a plan.
    • This doesn't sound good.
    • Meanwhile, T.J. has been caught cheating. He turns his anger onto the Logan kids, accusing them of acting like they're better than everyone else.
    • Cassie tells her brothers to go on home without her, since she's waiting for Lillian Jean. When she arrives, Cassie lures her out into the woods to show her a surprise.
    • When they get into a clearing, Cassie throws down Lillian Jean's books. Lillian Jean tells her to pick them up.
    • Defiant, Cassie tells her, "Make me" (8.77).
    • Okay, this doesn't sound like a great plan, actually.
    • The girls get into a physical scuffle, and Cassie is careful to not put any marks on Lillian Jean's face. It's quite violent, though. Cassie "punched her in the stomach and buttocks, and twisted her hair" (8.81).
    • Cassie finally pins her down and demands that Lillian Jean apologize to her. Lillian Jean does, but threatens to tell her dad about what happened.
    • Go ahead, Cassie says. In return, Cassie will tell all of Lillian Jean's friends about the gossip she has been so generously sharing with her over the past month.
    • Ha! Okay, kind of a good plan, after all.
    • The weird part is that Lillian Jean totally can't understand why this is happening: "You was such a nice little girl..." (8.88).
    • The next day at school, Kaleb Wallace and Mr. Granger show up to talk to Mr. Wellever, the principal.
    • Cassie gets out of her class by telling Miss Crocker that she has to go to the restroom. Instead, she sneaks over to Mama's classroom to see what's going on.
    • The men want to observe Mama give a history lesson about slavery.
    • Mr. Granger interrupts the lesson to point out that what Mama is teaching is not in the textbooks that were given to them by the county.
    • Yeah, Mama says—that's because it's not all true.
    • So, Mr. Granger has Mama fired from her teaching job, because she thinks she is so much smarter than the person who wrote the textbook.
    • But really, she was fired because of the Wallace store boycott.
    • This is a major bummer, because teaching is so vital to who Mama is.
    • The next day at school, Little Willie Wiggins tells the children that T.J. was down at the Wallace store saying that Mrs. Logan had failed him on purpose, and that it was her fault that lots of people weren't shopping at the Wallace store anymore.
    • Oh, and he told the Wallaces that Mrs. Logan destroyed school property by putting brown paper over the books with the racist language.
    • When the Logan kids confront T.J., he totally denies it, just saying that he only told people that Mrs. Logan failed him, and that he was mad about it.
    • Stacey doesn't beat him up, because what T.J. will get is worse than a beating.
    • And it kind of is. When T.J. returns to school after a week, he is ignored by most of the other students.
    • After school, he still denies what Little Willie Wiggins had said. In fact, T.J. claims that Willie probably told the things himself, and is now trying to blame it on T.J.
    • Well, okay, maybe he did say something about Mrs. Logan, but he doesn't remember it.
    • That's it: the friendship is officially over.
    • But T.J. screams at them that their friendship doesn't matter—that he has better friends who are white, and who give him things.
    • Uh, yeah. Good luck with that, buddy.
  • Chapter 9

    • It's now spring, and Cassie tries to get out of going to school by offering to help her father with the farm.
    • Yeah, he doesn't go for that plan.
    • Jeremy Simms is sad that he won't see the Logan kids for a while, since their school lets out in March, while the white kids' school goes until mid-May.
    • He also lets slip that his brothers, R.W. and Melvin, have been hanging out with T.J., and they don't treat him too well.
    • Cassie asks her mom why R.W. and Melvin (who are eighteen and nineteen) would want to hang out with a fourteen-year-old anyway.
    • Mama tells her that it makes them feel good to have him around—that it makes them feel good to have someone to laugh at and use.
    • Mr. Jamison shows up at the house to talk to Papa.
    • Later, Cassie overhears Mama and Papa talking about what Mr. Jamison wanted.
    • Apparently, Thurston Wallace, owner of the Wallace store, is planning on putting a stop to the boycott.
    • Mama is scared of what might happen. So are we.
    • Later, school is out but Papa hasn't gone back to his railroad job. The impression Cassie gets is that he's afraid to leave in case something bad happens.
    • But he's going to have to go soon, because the railroad job pays for the taxes and mortgage.
    • Mr. Lanier and Mr. Avery come to the Logans' house, interrupting the conversation about Papa returning to work.
    • Bad news: they don't want to shop in Vicksburg anymore.
    • Mr. Granger is going to make them pay a higher percentage of their cotton yields if they keep shopping there.
    • Furthermore, Mr. Granger is threatening to kick the Averys off of his land. They might also end up on a chain gang for causing trouble for white people.
    • Stacey is super mad, but Papa tells him that they are only doing what they have to. Their own family is lucky because they own their own land.
    • After the kids are supposed to be in bed, Cassie overhears her parents talking. Is it just us, or is there a lot of eavesdropping in this book?
    • Papa plans to go to Vicksburg, but Mama wants him to wait until this trouble blows over.
    • Plus, he wants to take Stacey and teach him how to take care of the family business.
    • Mama and Papa also talk about T.J., who's out of control.
    • Here's the thing. There are only seven families left who are willing to keep up the boycott, if you include the Logans.
    • Turns out this is a Big Problem, because now there aren't enough folks involved to actually affect the Wallaces' bottom line.
    • Instead, it's just enough people to make the Wallaces mad, which is bad news for the Logans.
    • And when Papa, Mr. Morrison and Stacey don't return as scheduled from Vicksburg, everyone is super worried.
    • Late that night, the trio shows up, but Papa has a broken leg. Mr. Morrison claims a wagon rolled over it, but can't look Mama in the eye when he says this.
    • Cassie is able to get the whole story out of Stacey:
    • Apparently, on the way back from Vicksburg, the wheels came off the wagon, kind of like someone had purposefully sabotaged it.
    • As they repaired the wagon, a truck rolled up, and someone shot Papa (not fatally, whew). The wagon then fell on Papa's leg.
    • Mr. Morrison went on the attack. He picked up one of the men from the truck and threw him down hard, and seriously injuring another.
    • Uh oh.
  • Chapter 10

    • Cassie overhears (again?!) Papa and Mama discussing the family's financial situation. A clue: It's not good.
    • Mama wants to ask Uncle Hammer for a loan, but Papa refuses. If his brother finds out what has happened, he'll cause problems (remember the temper thing?)
    • The family may have to sell some of its livestock to make the mortgage payments. They'll also have to take their cotton to Vicksburg to get it ginned, since Mr. Granger owns the only cotton gin in town.
    • The situation has gotten so bad that Papa doesn't even feel it's safe for Big Ma to go to the market in Strawberry this month.
    • It's clear that the family will have to do without a lot of non-essentials for a while to stretch their money.
    • Papa admits that he feels like "taking a bullwhip to all three" of the Wallaces (10.24).
    • Mama accuses him of sounding like Uncle Hammer—and points out that Uncle Hammer would have gotten them all killed if he had been there.
    • The next day, Cassie goes with Mr. Morrison and her brothers to the Wigginses' house.
    • On the way home, a pickup truck stops them. It's Kaleb Wallace. And he's very angry about how Mr. Morrison hurt his brothers.
    • Mr. Morrison calmly asks Kaleb to move his truck so he can get by with the wagon. When he doesn't, Mr. Morrison physically moves the truck out of his way.
    • Whoa! That's Jean-Valjean-level strength right there.
    • As the wagon rides away, Kaleb threatens to kill Mr. Morrison.
    • Now it's August and super hot. The kids take to playing in the forest.
    • Sometimes Jeremy Simms comes along. He tells the Logans that some people in town are saying they're glad Papa is still hurt and can't go make money with his railroad work right now.
    • Also, T.J. is still hanging out with the older Simms brothers, and has recently been involved in stealing.
    • Jeremy reveals that he has built himself a sort of tree house up in the tall forest trees, and he sleeps up there some nights to keep cool.
    • He gets his feelings hurt when the Logan kids don't want to come see his tree house, but offers to help them if they ever want to build one for themselves.
    • On another day, Mr. Morrison returns from Strawberry, making the trip there to pay the August mortgage.
    • Bad news: the mortgage is now due immediately and is payable in full. In other words: the Logans owe a lot a of money.
    • Harlan Granger is at the bottom of this, obviously. Papa makes plans to immediately go to Strawberry.
    • Mama convinces Papa it's too dangerous for them to make the trip at night after what happened last time. Papa agrees to go in the morning.
    • After Papa and Mr. Morrison return from Strawberry, the news is even worse. They have to borrow money from Uncle Hammer to help pay off the mortgage, and their credit is no longer good in Strawberry.
    • At the end of August, the annual revival arrives in town. It's a weeklong event that brings the black community together.
    • Uncle Hammer shows up at the first night of the revival—without his car.
    • It turns out he had to sell it to help pay for the mortgage on the land. Man, that is some brotherly love.
    • On the last night of the revival, a big storm blows in.
    • T.J. shows up at the event with the Simms brothers. He's wearing fancy clothes and makes a big show of introducing R.W. and Melvin Simms as his friends.
    • That's weird. His new friends and flashy new clothes aren't making a difference in how the Logans and others view him. They still think he's a shady character.
    • This seems to make T.J. sad.
    • R.W. tries to cheer him up by asking him if he still wants the pearl-handled pistol (presumably the same one he admired at Mr. Barnett's store in Strawberry).
    • Cassie notices that T.J. looks "desolately alone," and that she "almost [feels] sorry for him" (10.213).
  • Chapter 11

    • The chapter is prefaced with an epigraph: a spiritual that the book was named after (see "What's Up With the Epigraph" for the lowdown).
    • The storm is still lingering, and thunder rolls as Mr. Morrison keeps watch over the house.
    • Cassie hears a tapping at the door, and answers it. It's T.J.
    • He's hurt really badly. Cassie brings him into the house.
    • T.J. reveals that R.W. and Melvin have beaten him severely. He asks Stacey to help him get home.
    • The Simms brothers beat T.J. because he threatened to tell what happened earlier that night.
    • And here's what happened:
    • The trio had gone into Strawberry to get the pistol that T.J. wanted. R.W. and Melvin goaded T.J. into breaking into Mr. Barnett's store, and told him that if he got caught, they would just tell Mr. Barnett that they needed the gun and had every intention of paying for it the next day.
    • T.J. snuck into the store to take the pistol, and R.W. and Melvin, wearing masks, entered also.
    • The noise caused Mr. Barnett to wake up, and he came on the scene to see the three in his store.
    • Mr. Barnett tried to take the cash box from Melvin, and the two struggled. R.W. hit Mr. Barnett, and he fell down like he was dead.
    • Then, Mrs. Barnett came down, and seeing the masked figures, thought that all three were black men.
    • After the three made their escape, T.J. demanded to be taken home. The Simms brothers refused, and T.J. threatened to tell everyone about what had just happened.
    • They then beat him and went to play pool, leaving T.J. gravely injured in the back of their truck.
    • T.J. got a ride from a farmer, and ended up at the Logans' house.
    • Stacey thinks that T.J. is lying, but T.J. swears he is telling the truth this time.
    • Eventually, all of the Logan children wake up and help Stacey get T.J. home.
    • As soon as T.J. slips through his bedroom window, several cars drive up from the direction of Mr. Granger's house. This is definitely not good.
    • It's the Simms, the Wallaces, and several other white men. They demand that T.J. come out, and accuse him of being a murderer.
    • Cassie and her brothers watch in horror as Melvin and R.W. smash their way inside the house and drag out Mr. and Mrs. Avery, their daughters, and Claude.
    • Finally, T.J. is dragged out—even more badly beaten than before.
    • The Simms find the pearl-handled pistol on T.J.
    • It's clear that these men are also looking for the "other two black men" (a.k.a. R.W. and Melvin) that T.J. was supposedly with.
    • Of course, R.W. and Melvin aren't exactly stepping up to confess.
    • Mr. Jamison drives up and tries to stop what is happening. But Thurston Wallace threatens to hurt him, too, if he doesn't stop meddling in things.
    • Mr. Jamison asks the men to give T.J. to him and the sheriff.
    • Someone in the crowd shouts out that they should "do it now" (clearly, meaning to hang T.J. right then and there).
    • Just then, the sheriff shows up. He makes it clear that Mr. Granger will be unhappy if anything happens on his land, but, you know, if the white men take T.J. off of Granger land …
    • Someone in the crowd shouts that they should also "take care of" Mr. Morrison and Papa at the same time. And hey, they just so happen to have three ropes with them.
    • Yikes. The Logan kids run off to get Papa.
  • Chapter 12

    • When Cassie and her bros get back home, Big Ma, Mama and Mr. Morrison are already up and about, waiting to hear the news.
    • Papa charges into the room with a leather strap. Uh oh...we know what this means.
    • Before Papa can whip the kids for running around in the dead of night, Cassie spills the beans (but not the crowder peas) on everything that went down during the night.
    • Papa's response? He grabs the gun and gets ready to split. Yikes!
    • Mama tells him that he has to force Harlan Granger to put a stop to this, since these men will listen to Mr. Granger.
    • Soon, Cassie smells fire. The land and the cotton are burning. Big Ma thinks lightning started the blaze.
    • Mama and Big Ma leave the house to help fight the fire, but the children are ordered to stay in the house.
    • Near dawn, Jeremy Simms shows up at the Logans' house. He had been sleeping in his tree house when the fire started.
    • The blaze has burned at least a quarter of the Logan cotton, and many people are still out fighting the fire.
    • Rain starts to fall.
    • At dawn, Cassie, Little Man and Christopher-John go out and survey the fire damage.
    • They see many people from the town and surrounding farms working together in the fields to finish putting out spot fires. White men and black men work side by side. (Guess you don't want the fire to spread to everyone else's fields.)
    • When the Logans return to their home, Mama tells the children what has happened.
    • When the fire started, Mr. Granger stopped the Simmses and Wallaces from what they had been about to do (hang T.J.).
    • But where had Papa been? Cassie is suspicious about something.
    • She's also worried about how much of the cotton got burned—she is afraid they won't be able to pay the taxes now, but Mama assures her they can.
    • Before she goes to bed, Cassie makes Stacey tell her the truth about what has happened.
    • Mr. Jamison tried to stop the situation by blocking the Wallaces' car with his own, but the Wallaces just pushed Mr. Jamison's car off the road. They were about to take off with T.J., when smoke started coming from Mr. Granger's forest.
    • Mr. Granger ordered the Wallaces to give T.J. to Mr. Jamison, and for everyone to go put out the fire.
    • Okay, but Cassie still feels like there's some info missing. At this point in Stacey's story, Papa and Mr. Morrison show up at the house.
    • Mr. Jamison drives up behind them. He tells Papa that he's just come from Strawberry, and has news for the Averys.
    • Bad news: Mr. Barnett has died because of his injuries.
    • Mr. Jamison repeats the theory that lightning started the fire, but then tells Papa that he should lie low and not give anyone a reason to think about him at all in relation to any of this.
    • Oh! Papa started the fire!
    • Cassie realizes that not even their own family can talk about this.
    • Mr. Jamison leaves, and Papa tells Cassie and Stacey that T.J. is in jail right now. Papa mentions that he could end up on a chain gang, or worse.
    • Cassie and Stacey are really upset. Stacey runs off, but Cassie goes to bed thinking that she'll never get over what happened last night.
    • Cassie cries for T.J—and for the land.
    • And on that cheerful note, we're done.