How Mildred Taylor uses the Characters and Events to show the Prejudice in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
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Mildred Taylor, the author of 'Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry' clearly depicts racism in her novel. She skillfully uses the characters and events in the novel to show prejudice in Mississippi in the 1930s, when the book was set. At the time Mississippi was renowned as one of the worst states for racism. Taylor has created many situations in her novel were several of the characters are victimized as well as discriminated against. Throughout the novel white people form an irrational judgment on the black race, innocent people are burnt and lynched. 'Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry' is a novel which ventures on how hatred, humiliation and degradation fill the gap between the two races that are separate from each other, the races of the black and white.
Taylor uses one of the main characters in this novel, Cassie Logan to show how racism impacted on their everyday lives. When Cassie goes to Strawberry for the first time, she is put out of her comfort zone and into the real world. Through these episodes Taylor shows us that Cassie had to grow up, and learn that being defensive cannot always solve the problem. As Cassie angrily confronts Mr. Barnett as she has not been served, he angrily ?recoiled? and told her to get her ?little black self? away from the counter to wait. As Mr. Barnett tries to get rid of Cassie he bellows, ?whose little nigger is this? leaving Cassie feeling ashamed and confused. Taylor uses this incident and characters to show that black people were considered, by some, to be less important than whites, since Cassie had been waiting for nearly an hour. The language spoken by Mr. Barnett is strongly patronizing, and it expands the portrayal of racism.
Another point where Cassie is complete humiliated is when she bum...
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...hool every day, whilst the white school bus goes past and sprays them with red dust. This also shows segregation, whites and blacks had to be as far apart as possible according to the whites. In the novel we see segregation many times: when Big Ma parks the wagon the other side of the field, the different schools and different buses. Taylor does use strong and powerful language through her characters and events to portray the racism. She also had a clear structure, some may find it confusing at times, but overall it does not affect how prejudice is portrayed as events follow each other. I think that the final message of the novel, perhaps, is that survival is possible, but that there are inevitable losses along the way, and that whatever race we are should not matter. Taylor uses memorable characters and big and small events to show prejudice in 1930?s Mississippi.