Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry was written by Mildred Taylor. The story is set in Mississippi during the 1930th. At that time reforms regarding the rights of black people were introduced. Nevertheless in some parts of America the racial attitude to them didn’t stop. Humiliation and insults were common towards the black people. The characters in the story especially Cassie, the narrator, have to adapt to the harsh community in order to survive. The only way to live in freedom and equality is to posses a land of your own.
Throughout the novel young Cassie comprehends the importance of owing a land, since a lot of sacrifices were made to reserve the hard-won heritage. The Wall Street Crash of 1929 affected everyone. There was economic collapse. This resulted in wide-spread unemployment and poverty in America. During those years agriculture inflated, the land became foremost for people. Money was not as valuable as land. It became very difficult for an ordinary person to survive. Life became harsh because there was no work and as a result families suffered. Conditions for the black people were particularly bad.
They suffered humiliation, injustice and a real threat to their lives. There were no legal means to survive in those circumstances. The horrifying years of racism depicted the power over the black people and their confined lives. Perhaps Mildred Taylor uses the historical events to illustrate how black people suffered racism during the period of the depression and how important for them was to be independent and have their own land to survive. In Mildred Taylor’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry the theme of land is central to the plot. It indicates independence and freedom for black people, prosperity and wealth for white.
Unfortunately, it was rare for the black people to own a land. When it was the case it would cause resentment among the white people. It was Paul Edward’s (Cassie’s grandfather), skills as carpenter which enabled him to buy some land to support the family. The hard-earned achievement was dear to everyone in the Logan family. The importance of the land is shown in the way Papa explains to Cassie how vital the land is in their lives. ‘I asked him once why he had to go away, why the land was so important. He took my hand and said in his quiet way: ”Look out there, Cassie girl.
All that belongs to you. You ain’ never had to live on nobody’s place but your own and long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to. That’s important. ” ‘ In this quotation Papa refers to the land as a symbol of freedom. It was an opportunity for his family to live on his own ‘land’ instead of working as a share cropper for the white people. ‘ “You were born blessed boy, with land of your own. If you hadn’t been, you’d cry out it while you try to survive. ” ‘ Stacey is also signified as a blessed person since he lives on his own land unlike the other black people at that time.
He is lucky to avoid misery and poverty. Big Ma is another character in the story for whom the land is vital. Her life has been one of hard physical labour. She used to work in the fields with the men. She feels sense of unity between her and the land. It evokes the history of her life: grief, losses and tribulations she went through. That is why she shows a great deal of sense and foresight by arranging to sign the papers that would allow her sons to inherit the land. The loss of it would mean death of her incarnation. The Logans own a part of the forest as well.
Mildred Taylor portrays the trees as the friends of the Logan family friends who are meant to protect and shield from danger and harm. ‘ For a while we stood looking again at the destruction; of our fallen friends, we talked in quiet, respectful tones, observing the soft mourning of the forest. ‘ This quotation depicts the value of the land and every inch of it to the Logan family. The ‘fallen friends’ is a metaphor for the word ‘trees’. The scatter of the ‘fallen friends’ is a ‘destruction’ for the whole Logan family, torment they all have to undergo. The ‘tree’s got roots that run deep’..