Study Guide

Tar Beach Society and Class

By Faith Ringgold

Society and Class

I could see our tiny rooftop, with Mommy and Daddy and Mr. and Mrs. Honey, our next-door neighbors, still playing cards as if nothing was going on […] (3)

The Lightfoots and the Honeys don't entertain themselves by going out to fancy restaurants. They hang out at home, maybe to save money.

Lying on the roof in the night, with stars and skyscraper buildings all around me, made me feel rich, like I owned all that I could see. (5)

In her imagination, Cassie feels rich and powerful. In real life, she's just a kid—and she's definitely not rich.

The bridge was my most prized possession. (6)

The bridge doesn't really belong to Cassie. Why does she call it her most prized possession?

All I have to do is fly over it for it to be mine forever. I can wear it like a giant diamond necklace, or just fly above it and marvel at its sparkling beauty. (9-10)

Who needs some stinking diamond necklace when you own the whole George Washington Bridge?

I can fly—yes, fly. Me, Cassie Louise Lightfoot, only eight years old and in the third grade, and I can fly. That means I'm free to go wherever I want for the rest of my life. (10)

Cassie feels like she can grow up and do anything. You go, girl!

Daddy took me to see the new union building he is working on. (11)

Daddy helped build the union building, but he can't join the union. Not fair.

He can walk on steel girders high up in the sky and not fall. They call him the Cat. But he still can't join the union because Grandpa wasn't a member. (12-13)

Cassie's dad can't get ahead at work because he can't join the union. The man is keeping him down, and it's super unfair.

And Mommy can laugh and sleep late like Mrs. Honey […] (17)

Mrs. Honey sounds like a woman of leisure compared to Mommy, right? That might be in part because she and her husband don't have any kids.

Mommy is roasting peanuts and frying chicken, and Daddy will bring home a watermelon. Mr. and Mrs. Honey will bring the beer and their old green card table. (21)

Even though Cassie's family doesn't have a lot of money, they take time out for the good things in life.

I have told him it's very easy, anyone can fly. All you need is somewhere to go that you can't get to any other way. The next thing you know, you're flying among the stars. (24)

Cassie and Be Be may not have much money now. But the future's all theirs—and who knows what they'll grow up and do.