Mildred D. Taylor’s novel ‘Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry’, is set in Mississippi, a white-dominated society. The Logans were indefatigably fighting to stand up for, and enforce their fundamental rights. This area’s main source of income was agriculture, and for agriculture you need land. Most blacks were too poor to own land, and hence share-cropped on white land, which left them very dependent on the whites. The complete control over their lives coerced them to subjugate to the whites and silently bear the all the injustice iniquitously meted out to them.
It was arduous to defend one’s rights when you lived in constant fear of having your source of livelihood being cut, or even dire consequences. Hence, for the Logans, the land was a source of pride, their only possession that kept them independent of the whites, and gave them the courage to fight for their rights and challenge the whites. In a society where the reminiscence of slavery is still strong, land is a symbol of independence and self-sufficiency. Throughout the book, they repeat the same refrain, “We won’t lose the land”.
Even though they didn’t have enough money to pay taxes, mortgage, and live on too, they strived to make ends meet for the sake of their land. David Logan went away from home, to set tracks in Louisiana. Mary Logan taught in school. All the children, Big Ma, and Mama worked very hard picking cotton, despite their odd ages. They had to toil hard, and economize on whatever little they had. Nevertheless, they continued to shed sweat, tears and blood for the land, to maintain their independency. ” Look out there, Cassie girl, all that belongs to you. … long as I live and the family survives, you’ll never have to.
That’s important… ” This shows that the land meant survival for the family, without which, their very lives could be in jeopardy. As mentioned by Papa, it doesn’t matter to whom the land legally belongs, to him, it’s just Logan land, and everyone does their little bit for the land, even Uncle Hammer. In the end, he sells off his Packard, his most prized possession, to save the land. While he actually is very emotionally attached to the car, he casually says “What good is a car? It can’t grow cotton. You can’t build a home on it… ” The whites on the other hand, used the land to suppress the blacks.
While the blacks worked hard and share-cropped their land, all they did was relax, and enjoy the fruits of the Negros’ hard work. Like the Logans, for Mr. Granger also, the land is inherently linked to the family, and is a symbol of pride, dignity and veneration. However, unlike the Logans, Harlan Granger also views the land as a symbol of domination over the blacks, and wants to acquire the Logan land just to boost his ego, and feel proud in the fact that land that once belonged to his family was returned to him, after being in the hands of a black family for so long.
He couldn’t bear the fact that some black actually had the courage and money to buy his family’s land, and co-exist as a contemporary. In the end, it’s the land that really matters, and it’s the land that brings the two races together for the first time. In the time of crisis, the whites and the blacks work together to save the land and the crops from the fire. Here the author suggests that harmony and cooperation between the whites and the blacks is possible, but exists only during crisis.
She raises the question in our minds, that why then, can’t there be everlasting unity between the two communities. Its ironic that in the end, the Logans who had sacrificed so much for the land, burnt it up in hopes to save TJ, the abhorrent character who had made Mama lose her job. They burnt the very land they had toiled so much for, and due to which they were forced to economize. The land that they had gallantly defended from the whites. They were lucky that their plan worked, at least partially.
Although they probably weren’t able to save TJ from a harsh punishment, they got him a fair trial in court, and a just punishment. Their land had served a good cause. Cassie’s thoughts conclude the book, and as she cries for TJ, and for the land, she realizes that it would be long before blacks actually got justice. 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.