With Reference to at Least Two Incidents Described In The Novel, Show How They Illustrate the Persecution of Ethnic Minorities The novel, ‘Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry’ is about a black family’s life in the southern states of America in the 1930’s. It is written by Mildred Taylor, who is black, and is mainly based around the theme of racism. Much of the novel also deals with themes such as land, education, religion and family. All of these were obviously a main part of Mildred Taylor’s childhood as she says that she based the book on her childhood in Mississippi, where she was born, and in Ohio where she grew up.
As already mentioned, the novel is set in the 1930’s when at the time there was an economic depression taking place which meant that the price of cotton fell dramatically. This affects the Logan Family who farm cotton for a living. The two incidents that I have chosen are in Chapter five when the Logan’s visit Strawberry and later on in the book when Mama is fired from her teaching job. When reading these episodes, I couldn’t imagine a world where history is told untruthfully to make white people not feel so guilty and where you are judged on the colour of your skin.
This made it hard to choose an incident as I thought the parts of the book that dealt with racism were all atrocious stories. The first incident I am going to talk about is when Cassie goes shopping in Strawberry. To her it is a great privilege to be going to Strawberry, but once she gets there her, she finally learns the reality about the feud between blacks and whites. However, she doesn’t learn that the feud is that big between blacks and whites. Personally I find this episode appalling to read. When I first read it I felt that I couldn’t believe that somebody would treat people this way and be allowed to get away with it.
In the Barnett Store Cassie asks Mr Barnett to find the items on her shopping list for her, but he insists on serving the whites first. This incident ends in an argument between Cassie and Mr Barnett in which Mr Barnett shouts, ‘Make sure she (Cassie) don’t come back till yo’ mammy teach her what she is. ‘ Meaning make her realise that blacks are different from whites and whites are better. Mildred Taylor describes this scene so well in the book that you can almost hear the disgust in Mr Barnett’s voice over Cassie.
I think that Mildred Taylor wouldn’t have been able to write so realistically if she hadn’t been through such experiences herself. She explains that she used to hate black history at school because she knew that the truth was not being told and she wanted to change that. In ‘Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry’, she ‘wanted to show a different kind of Black world from the one so often seen. ‘ I think that this is very important and comes across well in the book as many people don’t know how Blacks used to be treated, and in some cases still are treated.
She also wanted to show the type of family life that blacks led as many people just assumed that blacks used to live in poverty and confusion over their lives. I recently watched a documentary on television where there was a hidden camera in a shop and the white manager was kicking the black assistant around, and treating him as a slave like the blacks were treated in the 1930’s. I thought this was dreadful, considering since then we have had famous, historical speeches to do with racism which must have made the ‘racial bullies’ think about what they were doing.
Martin Luther King is a very good example. In 1963 he made a speech to over 200,000 people and this is what he said: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. ‘… I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. ” This relates very much to Mama’s ‘speech’ in chapter six where Mama tells Cassie ‘…