Mildred D. Taylor's Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry is set during the Great Depression, in the rural areas of Mississippi. The majority of the people in this community are sharecroppers, who are greatly dependent on plantation farming. The Logan family is fortunate because they have a piece of land of their own, so unlike other black sharecroppers they do not have to be dependent on the whites. However, due to the sharp decrease in the price of the cotton crop the family have to work hard to keep it in their hands, whilst also providing food in order for them to survive. The situation is further worsened because of the severity of racism and segregation in the society. The Logans are one of the few families who own land and this causes resentment from the whites whose beliefs are that black people are inferior and the whites must maintain their supremacy. David Logan and Uncle Hammer both believe that prejudice must be stopped, yet the ways in which they fight against it differ greatly. Papa prefers to act non-violently and to work within the system. He does so by concentrating on paying off the mortgage of the land so that his family will be on an equal par with the whites and have self-respect. He modifies his behaviour and considers things carefully in order not to jeopardise the land and the safety of his family. Hammer on the other hand has left Mississippi to get away from the prejudice, but once confronted with it again; he reacts violently and impulsively. Being a single person he puts his sense of injustice before concern about repercussions against the family.
Papa works on the railroads in order to support his family and the land, so as a result he only returns to Mississippi during the wintertime. Unlike Papa, Uncle Hammer does not live with the family. He is not married and lives in Chicago where segregation is less severe, and thus has the opportunity to earn a good salary. When he visits the Logan family during the Christmas season "Uncle Hammer wore, as he had everyday since he had arrived, sharply creased pants, a vest over a snow-white shirt and shoes that shone like midnight.'; This shows that he is not afraid to flaunt his wealth, which in turn provokes the whites. His aim is to show them that black people can be as equally successful. Also the black community admire him for his achievements, "Uncle Hammer...
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...n never to give up and to fight against racism. "We keep doing what we gotta, and we don't give up, we can't'; They also teach the children to demand respect. This plays an important part in the stability and the survival of the family. Another thing they have in common is that they both value their roots through the act of story telling, passing on their cultural heritage from generation to generation which happens often throughout the novel. For example during Christmas time Papa tells the children, "and ole Hammer and me, we used to sneak up there whenever it'd get so hot you couldn't hardly move and take a couple of them melons on down to the pond and let them get real chilled.';
In conclusion Uncle Hammer behaves much more impulsively than Papa, who can control his temper very well. He does not act spontaneously and thinks things out carefully, unlike Hammer who often acts on the spur of the moment. Despite the differences in their self-control and lifestyles, they are loyal family men who have similar values and principles and want to pass on their culture and teach the children their history. In view of this Uncle Hammer and Papa have more in common than is different.
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