First I would like to talk about the historical context of the book, then life for the Logans in general. This book is set in 1933 in Mississippi during the Great Depression. At that time, the South was extremely racist. Many of the whites were very disappointed to have lost the Civil War, since slavery had brought them a huge amount of riches. Although slavery had been legally abolished, many in the South, including those that had held positions of authority and power, wanted to continue dominating the blacks in a segregated society.
Considering the historical context of racism in the South, it is actually very unusual that the Logan family own land. According to Big Ma, the local big landowner, Harlan Granger’s ancestor, had contributed quite a lot of money to the war, and when the South lost he was broke. He had to sell 2 000 acres of his land to pay his taxes, and from there Big Ma’s husband, Paul Edward, bought 200 acres and Mr Jamison, a white lawyer sympathetic to blacks, bought 1 000 acres. Later, Mr Jamison sold another 200 acres to Paul Edward, and so he now had 400 acres of land and this land got passed to Big Ma, then to Uncle Hammer and Papa. However, the Logans faced constant pressure from Harlan Granger, who wished to purchase back the land his family had lost.
The reader is first introduced to racial prejudice in the novel through the characters of the children with whom the novel opens. The Logan children are going to school when they meet their friend TJ, who tells them about the burning of Mr Berr...
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...an afford such expensive items and automatically assume that black people are of an inferior grade and therefore cannot own such luxurious items. Also, the title of the book itself, Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry, is a song of resistance sung by African Americans during the days of slavery. Mr Morrison sings this song every night after Papa has been shot, which has a symbolic meaning that although white people may control most of their lives, they are still not affected and will not let them “turn me around”.
Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry’s main theme, prejudice, is what affected African American life back then in the Great Depression. It is what affected the Logan family back then, and it is what affected the individual lives of Stacey, Cassie, Christopher-John and Little Man back then. And so let us say, “Roll of thunder, hear my cry, over the water, bye and bye.”
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