Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor is set in the 1930’s Mississippi, in the southern states of America. It is a heart warming novel based on the Logan family, and their friends and enemies in society. In particular it focus’s on the four Logan children, Stacey, Cassie, Christopher-John and Little Man. In this study, I will be analysing each of the Characters and how differently they were treated to the white people at this time due to racism. I will also be examining the setting of the novel and how it portrays life in Mississippi at this time. Mildred D.
Taylor helps to portray almost all images to us in ways, which will give us all the information she requires us to know, and prevent us from being bored with mass description. She does this by using a “drip feed approach”. She tells us important facts about the characters indirectly: If I hadn’t known the cause of it, I could have forgotten very easily that he was, at twelve, bigger than I. The novelist also uses direct speech in the very first line of the text, which gives us a sense of immediacy. This helps to get the reader quickly engrossed in the novel, as they are not put off by intense description.
The writer uses the broad Mississippi dialect in direct speech when the characters are talking to one another. This helps us, the readers to place ourselves in the novel. Although it is only a few slang words, it tells us a lot about the individual characters. The first Character we are given a description of is little man. His real name was Clayton Chester but was known to almost everyone by his very appropriate nickname. Little man always kept himself meticulously neat which was a bit surprising for a six year old boy. The author portrays this image very well by using vocabulary such as: …
his studied steps. In addition, by directly telling us through little man that he likes to stay clean:. “Y’all go ahead and get dirty if y’all wanna,” he replied without looking up from his studied steps. “Me, I’m gonna stay clean. ” Little man is also very independent, strong and single minded he will stand up for what he knows is right even if he will be punished for doing so: “Pick it up,” she ordered. “No! ” defied Little Man. “No? I’ll give you ten seconds to pick up that book, boy, or I’m going to get my switch. ” Little man bit his lower lip, and I knew he was not going to pick up the book.
Little Man is very intelligent for his age as he was able to read even before he began his school tuition: She regarded me impatiently, but did not look at the book. “Now how could he know what it says? He can’t read. ” “Yes’m, he can. He been reading since he was four. He can’t read all them big words but he can read them Columns… ” Little man is very naive to the racial intolerance of the white people and has yet to understand the reasons for the dislike between both sides in society: “How’s come they didn’t stop for us? ” “‘Cause they like to see us run and it ain’t our bus,”
Stacey said, balling his fists and jamming them tightly into his pockets. “Well, Where’s our bus? ” demanded Little Man. “We ain’t got one. ” “Well, why not? ” Cassie, Little Mans older and only sister is also our protagonist. She is portrayed as a very strong character. The author gives us the impression that she is a tomboy. However, this is not surprising as she is raised in a home where she is surrounded by other males i. e. her brothers: I hated the dress. And the shoes. There was little I could do in a dress, and as for shoes, they imprisoned freedom
-loving feet accustomed to the feel of the warm earth. Cassie is a very strong-minded individual. She is very confident and outgoing and is not going to let any one walk all over her: “You can’t sit here,” objected Gracey. “I’m saving it for Mary Lou. ” I glanced back at Mary Lou Wellever depositing her Lunch pail on a shelf in the back of the room and said, “Not any more you ain’t. ” Cassie is definitely her own person. She is very individual and is determined not to be told what to do by any other person or be like any other person: “YES’M, MIZ CROCKER,” the children chorused. But I remained silent.
I never did approve of group responses. Cassie always seems to look on the bright side of things. Her personality expresses great optimism: Although being eyeball to eyeball with miss Crocker was nothing to look forward to, the prospect of being warm once the cold weather set in was nothing to be sneezed at either, … Cassie is very loyal to her brothers she shows great strength when she has to choose between being selfish and being loyal. I was on the verge of blurting out the awful truth about the bus and the men in the night, but then I remembered the pact Stacey had made us all swear to when I had told him. Christopher-John, Cassie’s other younger brother, is a bit less witty and courageous than his siblings.
He is a rather pudgy character and is less outgoing and single minded than the rest of his family. He is prepared to sit back and accept things as they are rather than go and put things right: “But we all wanted to do it,” I comforted. “Not me! ” denied Christopher-John. “All I wanted to do was eat my lunch! ” Stacey the oldest child but still only thirteen, is the main male role model in the Logan household, prior to the arrival of Mr Morrison.