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Initially, Cassie Logan does not understand the unofficial apartheid. She does not believe in it nor does she realise that it exists. She only learns of the differences and the unspoken rules halfway through the book, in Strawberry. Her bafflement at the reason for parking the wagon at the back is genuine. Her innocent logic says that they should park at the front for better marketing as there is space available. However, Big Ma simply says: ‘”Them’s white folks’ wagons, Cassie. “‘ This gives Cassie the first insight to racial division in the outside world. The trip to Strawberry is a growing up experience for Cassie.
Many racial incidents occur here. At the Barnett Mercantile, when Mr. Barnett is serving Stacey, TJ and Cassie he spots a white customer and goes to aid the white customer, Cassie is puzzled. She cannot fathom why Mr. Barnett is making them wait and allowing another customer to jump the queue. When Cassie innocently and politely objects she is told: ‘”Well, you just get your little black self back over there and wait some more. “‘ After they leave the shop Cassie bumps into Lillian Jean, because of her harsh, new experiences she is preoccupied with her thoughts and does not want to create a scene.
She moves on quietly but Lillian Jean is determined to make a scene. She tells Cassie to apologise and get off the pavement because Cassie cannot watch where she is going. Cassie apologises but refuses to get off the pavement. Mr. Simms arrives and forces Cassie off the pavement by twisting her arm and makes her apologise. Later, when Mary Logan explains to her daughter, she tells her that people like Mr. Simms believe that Whites are better than blacks and this is why Cassie had had to apologise. When Cassie says that white isn’t anything, her mother erases such racist thoughts by saying: ‘”White is something just like black is something.
Everybody born on this earth is something and nobody, no matter what colour, is better than anybody else. “‘ Cassie thus becomes a fighter of that dragon – racial discrimination. This is seen through her clever revenge of Lillian Jean. RJ and Melvin Simms’ views on racism cause the sufferance of TJ. TJ is used by the Simms brothers and tossed to the winds. In his naivety he believes that they are his friends and that they would only ‘borrow’ the pearl-handed pistol. He does not realise that he is being used as a scapegoat. Eventually, he is put on trial for the murder of Jim Lee Barnett and for attempted robbery.
Nobody in this little county is prepared to take a black boy’s word against the word of two white men. Race is of grave importance here. It determines the life or death of a young and innocent black boy. Cassie sees the evils of the white people through the burning of the Berrys. The effects of racism in the adult world are severe. Mr. Berry is burnt beyond belief and one of his nephews is tarred and feathered and dies. However, the Wallaces gloat about their actions and whilst everyone is aware that it was them who had committed such acts of terror, they are never charged with any crime.
All in all, the protagonists here are the black people and the antagonists are the white people. The racist views of the whites have a great, negative impact on the lives of the blacks. The Logan family try to stand up for themselves and make a difference however, their efforts are not effective enough to change everybody’s lives, but only their own. 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.