To What Extent Does Mildred Taylor Portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times?

To What Extent Does Mildred Taylor Portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times?

Length: 1653 words (4.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
To What Extent Does Mildred Taylor Portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times?

The novel 'Roll of Thunder' is based around racism and discrimination,
during the 1930's. Mildred Taylor has chosen to set her novel in a
time where black people were discriminated against. The context in
which the story is set is a conscious choice of the writer to
emphasise the extent of racism. T.J. is used by Mildred Taylor to
represent the injustices the Black community were subjected to in
these times. Although T.J. is not portrayed as a victim throughout the
novel, he is certainly seen as a victim during the concluding chapters
of the book.

The narrative is by a young girl of ten years, Cassie. Cassie is a
very opinionated, strong willed character who tends to judge people at
face value, without taking other factors into consideration. This
could be seen as a hindrance in such a novel, a novel that is being
used to exploit racism and could benefit from a more open-viewed
narrator. In this book however, the character is purposefully made to
be single-minded by Mildred Taylor because it encourages the reader to
think in more depth about the story.

The author uses this narrow perspective of T.J. to encourage the
reader to realise that he is a victim of the times. This realisation
is encouraged not through Cassie's opinion but because she cannot see
this fact until nearing the end of the story. Cassie's view of T.J. is
blunt, 'I didn't like T.J. very much,' and during the beginning of the
book the reader is persuaded that T.J. is not a nice person as there
is no evidence otherwise. As the book proceeds however, the reader can
show more insight into details that Cassie overlooks. This is as the
writer intends, it helps to include the reader more in the book and is
a similar idea to dramatic irony used on the stage. Mildred Taylor has
used Cassie's simplistic views of T.J. to persuade the reader to think
more deeply. She has used this simple point of view to show that the
effect of racism is not always obvious and as the reader comes to
realise that T.J. is a victim, Taylor's central theme is portrayed.

To help the reader understand that T.J. is a victim of the times,
Mildred Taylor uses other characters to show a more balanced opinion
of him. Stacey is often used in this way; he is one of the few
characters that show sympathy towards T.J. Stacey demonstrates a
certain level of understanding about T.J.'s position and why he is how
he is.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"To What Extent Does Mildred Taylor Portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times?." 06 Dec 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor

- "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor What do you think about TJ Avery in this novel do you hate him for his bad deeds or pity him. TJ is quite a confusing character. On one I had I pity him because of all the misfortune in his life, through his own fault though. Although on the other hand I think he is a complacent character, who thinks the world solely revolves around him. He seems to feel that the world owes him a living, a living he is not prepared to work for. I pity TJ because he has never really had any discipline and although discipline can be harsh....   [tags: Roll Thunder Hear Cry Mildred Taylor Essays]

Free Essays
409 words (1.2 pages)

Essay on Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor

- ... "Well, you just get your little black self back over there and wait some more." (Page 111, Taylor). The cherry of her perfect day was when Cassie bumped into Lillian Jean and was asked to get of the road. As Cassie refused her demand, Mr. Simms, Lillian Jean’s father, aggresively twisted poor Cassie’s arm and threw her down the road. In addition, he demands that Cassie appologizes to Miz Lillian Jean. Big Ma saw trouble being created and forced Cassie to appologize. Big Ma did it for Cassie’s own good, but Casssie didn’t seem to notice right away....   [tags: african americans, racism]

Research Papers
1537 words (4.4 pages)

Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry Essays

- Segregation was a way of life for almost all southerners from the period between the end of Reconstruction (1876) to the passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964). This covers the period known as The Great Depression (1929-1939). During this period banks lost billions of dollars and everyone was affected, even the wealthiest people. However, the effects of The Great Depression were felt the greatest for the poor. These people did not have any money, nor did they have a job to make money. There are stories of people standing out in long lines just to receive a little bit of food or perhaps have the opportunity to apply for a job that they would most likely not receive....   [tags: Mildred Taylor ]

Research Papers
1483 words (4.2 pages)

Essay Roll Of Thunder Hear My Cry By Mildred D Taylor

- The book, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry, written by Mildred D Taylor is an important novel set in Mississippi during the Great Depression. The central theme of the novel is racism, and the lead character, Cassie Logan, learns the differences and injustices that face her family as well as other black families. Cassie is portrayed as an intelligent girl with a strong personality, she is young and does not understand the world that she is living in. When we first meet her she does not understand that there are significant differences between blacks and whites....   [tags: Black people, White people, Friendship, Race]

Research Papers
1340 words (3.8 pages)

Land in Mildred D. Taylor's novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Essay

- Consider the Importance of Land in Mildred D. Taylor’s novel, ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry’ The novel puts an emphasis on land throughout the story; it is repeatedly mentioned and discussed, and linked to other main themes and factors in the book. It is clear from early on in the novel that land is a main theme and a very important factor. A clear example of this is that by the third page of the story, it is already described in detail how the Logans came to own their 400 acres of land in the first place, and hinted at as to how it is an effort to continue owning 200 acres of it, in the mention of “why” Papa had to “work” on the “railroad”; and the “mortgage”....   [tags: English Literature]

Research Papers
1719 words (4.9 pages)

Themes in the Novel and Movie Adaptation of James Cain’s Mildred Pierce

- Themes in the Novel and Movie Adaptation of James Cain’s Mildred Pierce In contemporary film making, “Hollywood-ization” generally refers to the re-creation of a classic work in a form more vulgar and sexually explicit than the original in an effort to boost movie attendance. After all, sex and violence sell. However, from the mid-1930’s to the 1950’s, “Hollywood-ization” referred to the opposite case where controversial books had to be purified to abide by the Production Code of 1934.[1] This occurred to many of James Cain’s novels as they moved from text to the genre of “film noir.” As has been said about Cain’s The Postman Always Rings Twice, “The property, bought several years ago,...   [tags: Mildred Pierce Essays]

Research Papers
1568 words (4.5 pages)

How Mildred Taylor uses the Characters and Events to show the Prejudice in Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry

- 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....   [tags: essays research papers]

Research Papers
1403 words (4 pages)

Mildred D. Taylor's Portrayal of Being Black in Mississippi in the 1930's

- Mildred D. Taylor's Portrayal of Being Black in Mississippi in the 1930's Mildred D. Taylor is very successful in conveying the reality of what it was like to be black in the 1930’s in the Mississippi region of the Southern States of America. In reading this book we see racial issues through a child’s eyes, Cassie Logan a 9 year old, which gives rise to a spectrum of different emotions. The book is excellent and unusual because it looks at life at that time from a child’s perspective, and probably would not have been as successful if it had looked from an adult’s view....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
2635 words (7.5 pages)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor Essay

- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D Taylor How does Mildred D Taylor show the ways in which black people could deal with racism and injustice in the south. ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’ is a novel were you can see how people feel, react and deal with racism. It is a novel which ventures on how hatred, humiliation and degradation fill in the gap between the two races that are separate from each other, the races of the black and white. Mildred D Taylor is an American children’s writer....   [tags: Papers]

Research Papers
1479 words (4.2 pages)

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is a very powerful Essay

- Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is a very powerful novel about the Logan family living in Mississippi in the 1930's. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor is a very powerful novel about the Logan family living in Mississippi in the 1930's. The story is told through the eyes of nine-year-old Cassie Logan, who has to learn throughout the entire book, how harsh the world truly is for blacks. Cassie has to learn that it is a white man's world out there, and that black people don't have much of a say in what goes on in it....   [tags: English Literature]

Research Papers
979 words (2.8 pages)

Cassie once said:

'As far back as I could remember, Stacey had felt a responsibility for
T.J. I had never understood why. Perhaps he felt that even a person as
despicable as T.J. needed someone he could call a " friend", or
perhaps he sensed T.J.'s vulnerability better than T.J. did himself.'

Being older Stacey realizes that T.J. is a vulnerable person that's
personality is not bad, just misguided. Had T.J. been born in the
modern day where such discrimination is not present it seems unlikely
he would appear so cruel as he did in the opening chapters. It is this
recognition, that T.J. is affected by the prejudice around him, which
allows Stacey to dismiss T.J.'s sometimes-hurtful actions.

Papa is also another character use by Mildred Taylor to help the
reader understand how difficult the times were, especially for people
like TJ. The Avery family sharecrops on Granger land, so although
Cassie doesn't understand how different life is for T.J. Papa does. He
once said to Cassie:

'You ain't never had to live on nobody's place but your own and long
as I live and the family survives you won't have to. That's important.
You may not understand that now, but one day you will. Then you'll

It is only nearing the end of the novel that Cassie comes to
understand this, but the reader understands a lot earlier. T.J.'s
whole family depends on Whites; they own the land the family earns
their money from. Without them his family could not survive, it is
therefore understandable that he may be more tolerant of the Whites'
actions than many others and not object to the discrimination.

Papa and Stacey play important roles in truly understanding T.J. and
why he does the things he does. By viewing Stacey's actions towards
T.J. and understanding the situation T.J. is subjected to via Papa it
is possible for the reader to understand why T.J. does specific
things. The underlying facts of T.J.'s life can help the reader
comprehend why he can act so irrationally at times. His dependence on
White people must surely explain why he feels that he owes Whites
something and that he should respect them. T.J. has been bought up in
the debt of White people, so understandably his personality has formed
in such a way that he respects Whites and does not have the confidence
like Cassie to speak out against their discriminative attitudes.

When Papa talked about the land to Cassie it also showed a deep
affection within the Logan family, a love of the land and a love of
each other. The Logans are a close-knit family who care deeply about
one another and for a Black family were doing very well, owning there
own piece of land rather than sharecropping. Comparing this to T.J.'s
poverty stricken life and troubled family, his desire to be liked by
the Simmses' seems more reasonable. T.J. never experiences the
tranquility of a happy family; his life is plagued by a jealousy for
those with more than him. This background helps explain the incident
between he and Stacey where he spitefully ridiculed Stacey about his
coat. Describing him as looking like a 'fat preacher'. These actions
are symptomatic of his background, the lack of a loving relationship
with his family leave T.J. not appreciating or recognizing those who
really care about him like Stacey. T.J. is a victim of the time, the
poverty, especially during the Depression, caused him to become
deceitful and encouraged jealousy and is likely to be the cause of the
break down in relations between his family and friends.

This difficult background also left effects on his personality. T.J.
is both nave and insecure, characteristics undoubtedly a result of
his difficult upbringing. His insecurity was shown when he craved a
gun. His reason was:

'There's other things a boy needs protectin' from more than a
rattlesnake. I get me that gun and ain't nobody gonna mess with me.'

T.J.'s insecurity is obvious; it is not only this physical insecurity
but also mentally. He finds it difficult to trust people, like Stacey.
He has never been able to rely on his parents, so he finds it
difficult to trust other people. Cassie does not understand this she
often says thoughtless comments like, 'you sure you ain't lying, TJ?'
and 'Yeah, shut up, TJ.' With people voicing comments like this it is
no wonder T.J. has very little self confidence and finds it hard to
trust people.

The insecurity clear in T.J. is also a direct result of the time he
lives in. T.J. has grown up in a world of discrimination where he is
continually reminded he is inferior and is victimised by white people.
A perfect example of this was the situation with R.W and Melvin. T.J.
for once in his life felt he was no longer inferior, he felt important
and valued. The most important fact to him though was that they were
White. This is shown when he says:

'Got me better friends than y'all! They give me things and treat me
like I'm a man and they white too'

All his life he had felt inferior and he finally felt accepted. To the
reader it was always obvious the friendship was far less equal than
T.J. imagined, Mildred Taylor used language to underline this
difference. T.J.'s strong accent, which would be associated with a
poor person, stood out particularly during this part of the book. She
uses the striking differences in speech to portray to the reader just
how different the Black and White people are and the startling extent
of difference in their quality of lives.

It is in the last chapters of the book where it is made undeniably
obvious that T.J. is a victim of the times. T.J. is held responsible
for a crime that he did not solely commit, a crime that in an equal
and fair society three people would have been punished for, a crime
that could never justify such a cruel punishment.

T.J does not deserve the punishment the men imply he will receive.
T.J. made a mistake, but a mistake that's consequences were only so
serious because of the times in which he lives. The White men show
clear prejudice and discrimination, they do not consider how severe
the punishment should be. They immediately decide that T.J. should be
killed, this decision is merely based around the colour of his skin
and the fact that they feel they are superior.

Mildred Taylor does portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times frequently
within the novel. It is during the last chapters that it becomes most
clear but throughout the book it is always an underlying factor. The
moving ending of the book really brings the portrayal to light. T.J is
portrayed as a victim, in the way that however he behaved, even when
he tried so hard to be friends with R.W and Melvin, he was never going
to be an equal because he was Black. The most powerful sentence in the
novel, 'I cried for TJ. For TJ and the land,' is the ending note of
the book. Even Cassie whom throughout the novel had disliked T.J.
finally realised he was a victim of the cruel times in which they
Return to