Mary Logan is an inspirational character. She is a guiding force to her children, loving wife to her husband and a respectful and brave member of society. Until about the middle of the book, Mary Logan is a teacher in the local black school. Even after she has been fired she continues to teach her own children, not about education but about life and the struggles and personal torments each may go through. Mary Logan or ‘Mama’ as she is more familiarly named, has not been easily accepted by her community since she married David Logan fourteen years ago and still isn’t.
Ever since graduating from the Crandon Teacher Training School at nineteen and then being employed in ‘Great faith’ she was considered by many of the teachers as a ‘disrupting maverick’ because her ideas were too radical. Ideas such as the covering of the books. This incident occurred in chapter one and was one of the first to really give us a clear impression into the kind of woman Mary Logan is. By covering the offensive fronts of the books, Mama clearly refuses to accept things the way they are. In comparison to Miss Crocker, Mama realizes and does not accept the hurtful prejudice directed towards the black children.
Mama then laughs and says to Miss Crocker that ‘no one cares enough to come down here, and in the second place if anyone should come, maybe he could see all the things we need’. Her courage and sense of justice is shown in this sentence and she, unlike many of the adults in this book, looks at life around her and understands the cruelty and injustice that many people are made to suffer. After Miss Crocker says that ‘they’ve got to learn how things are’ Mama replies with a message of passive subversion: ‘ maybe so… but that doesn’t mean they have to accept them…
and maybe we don’t either. Later in the novel we are brought back to the classroom where Mrs. Logan is teaching the children a different version of history to that endorsed by the school board. The visitation of Harland Granger and Kaleb Wallace to the classroom immediately arouses suspicion. They’re here to sack Mama because of the books and her teaching although she says later ‘ they’re just getting at us any way they can because of shopping in Vicksburg’ and she taught what ‘some folks just didn’t want to hear’. She is determined and self-aware after this occurrence.
Mama’s a smart woman and mostly accepts these punishments given to her only because she cannot fight against the white community and knows she can’t. Mama keeps her dignity and when returning home her immediate thought is of providing for the family ‘what’ll we do David? We needed that job. ‘ Another radical but brave idea of Mary Logan’s was to stall the purchase of groceries from black families in the Wallace’s store. The idea of this was to make Kaleb Wallace aware of how much he needs the black families who purchase items from his store and possibly to respect them more.
Mary Logan has such a resentment of this store because she believes not only that the Wallace’s are ‘bad people’ but also that they have a corrupting influence on young blacks. Mama’s audacity and valor helped her to be the one who visited the neighbours to canvass support for the shopping trip to Vicksburg and to be the organizer of the boycott against the Wallace store. I admire the way Mary Logan rears her children although I cannot fully begin to understand the responsibility a mother has over their children until I actually become a mother.
It must have made her role in the children’s lives more important the fact that these were hard times. She does not seem like an unfair mother, perhaps because she knows that her children have and will suffer many acts of unfairness in times to come. In her dealings with her children she is always just and consistent, helping them develop a strong sense of family and self worth unlike Mr. Avery whom Mary thinks is ‘failing in his duty to his son. ‘ We see this evidently when she talks to her daughter Cassie after her experience in Strawberry.