Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry takes place in the 1930’s in rural Mississippi. The novel is set in the southern states of America during The Great Depression of the 1930’s. Cassie Logan tells us in chapter 1 that David Logan (also known as papa) has to search for work ‘going as far as north as Memphis and as far south as the Delta Country’. The setting of Mississippi has an important effect on the story in that white people there were very racist. The point of view in this novel basically creates the whole story because it’s a child telling the story instead of the usual adult.
Cassie Logan tells the story in extreme detail, since everything has to do with her life and innocence. The mood is also an important factor in the story: suspense, happiness and peace all as one. Mississippi in Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a semi-tropical, long growing season town. It has abundant rainfall and the temperature is sometimes very unusual. Cassie had said in the first chapter that ‘it seemed to me that showing up at school at all on a bright August – like October morning made for running the cool forest trails and wading barefoot in the forest pond was concession enough’, and this would tell us what the weather was like.
There were all sorts of changes to the climate like when ‘thunder crashed against the corner of the world and lightening split the sky as we reached the road, but we didn’t stop’. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry is a novel of realistic fiction that concerns itself with the issues of prejudice, courage and self – respect. The author allows the reader to experience the racial issues of the time through the eye of an initially naive Cassie Logan. The racial tension and types of events experienced young Cassie, her family and town members cause her to grow up and discover the reality of her environment.
The 1930’s were a time of change and poverty due to The Great Depression. Everyone had all sorts of problems that couldn’t be resolved. On top of that, the Logans had to face the racism that happened in that small town. I learned some valuable lessons from this book, for example, how people were treated as seen through the eyes of a child. There is one scene in my mind when Cassie is made to apologize to Lillian Jean Simms. Lillian’s father goes further and tells her to apologize to ‘Miss Lillian Simms’.
It really makes an impression in my mind as to how children didn’t understand why things were so unfair, why people were so cruel and why blacks were so disrespected. The Wallace’s were a family who owned a grocery, but they were very prejudiced. They treated black people with no respect and are very evil towards them. Some white people hated blacks so much they formed groups to attack and harm innocent black people. ‘ The Ku Klux Klan’ was one such organisation. Its member’s wore white robes and rode armed in the night.
They also assassinated and burned the homes of those white people who had either befriended blacks or who had formed unions with blacks to fight for their rights. With all of this, you can tell how overboard people can go because of racism and people’s skin colour. People have to earn a living by either getting jobs in shops or banks or they could have owned a farm and grew crops and get lots of money out of it. You can also go into teaching at a school like Mama had done. Mama had been teaching history and wasn’t ‘approved by the Board Of Education’ because they found out Mama had not been teaching the correct history.