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Obviously the store-owner was used to not only treating blacks in this way, but in them putting up with it. However, Cassie was a high spirited young lady who, as yet, was not weighed down by the ‘yoke of racism’. The word ‘recoiled’ also hints at what is to come; for it is Mr Barnett whose store is to be raided by T. J. and the Simms brother at the climax of the novel. While Cassie strives to elucidate the situation, Barnett is infuriated and shrieks ‘whose little nigger is this! ‘ Cassie was angry and humiliated as everyone in the store turned and stared at her. Stacey appeared and held her hand.
Cassie was thrilled to see her brother by her side, although when she yearned for help Stacey did not respond. Mr Barnett informed him to ‘make sure she don’t come back till yo’ mammy teach her what she is. ‘ He wanted Cassie to realize that she and other black people are second-class citizens; consequently deems that he has the power to treat them as he desires. Cassie was exasperated at the way Mr Barnett treats them in his store. The racial injustice makes her furious and she finds it difficult to control her tongue. Stacey angrily rushes outside with Cassie and orders her to ‘shut up’.
He then crosses the street still irate to Cassie’s foolish act. While Cassie tries to figure out why Mr Barnett acted the way he did, she stumbles into Lillian Jean, Jeremy’s big sister. She tells her to apologize but Cassie exclaims that Lillian Jean had bumped into her. Subsequently, Cassie could not bother to have a quarrel with her as she had other things on her mind, so she says ‘sorry’. Lillian Jean doesn’t find it adequate; she tells her to get down in the road then says ‘maybe that way you won’t be bumping into decent white folks with your little nasty self’.
This statement to Cassie discriminates and shows her how disgusting white racists the Simms’s really are. Lillian Jean’s father arrives, grabs Cassie by the arm and throws her into the middle of the street. He forces her to make an apology, but Cassie sprints directly for the wagon. Unexpectedly, Big Ma appears and stops her. She wrathfully urges her to apologize to Lillian Jean. Cassie was disorientated to why Big Ma didn’t support her when she was in need for her help. Big Ma has a more complicated way of dealing with racism.
However, she is an old woman and she had little choice. If Big Ma were to refuse, she knew that they would have to face the consequences, therefore she forced Cassie to act contritely. Crushed and heartbroken, she apologizes to Lillian Jean. Then turns round and runs into the back of the wagon. A day that began full of expectations went from bad to worse. Cassie’s silence on the return journey home is a reflection of the hurt and humiliation she had suffered. Cassie’s first real taste of racism had totally subdued this normally impulsive and lively nine-year-old.
Cassie is an enthusiastic girl trapped in an inhumane and disgraceful racial system. Along with her brothers, Cassie is learning the hard way about racism prevalent in the deep south of the United States at that time. She cannot comprehend as to why people of her skin colour have to back down in the face of whites, even when they have done nothing wrong. This is even more incomprehensible as Big Ma is a very strong character who Cassie admires greatly. Apologising to Lillian Jean is mortification that the headstrong Cassie finds almost impossible to bear.
She is not the sort of girl to forget what has happened and later in the novel, it is no surprise that she is able to avenge her current humiliation. There is a certain amount of irony in the name ‘Strawberry’ which for Cassie left rather a bitter taste in the mouth. She has learnt from hard experience that things aren’t always what they seem. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Mildred Taylor section.