64 pages 2 hours read

Mildred D. Taylor

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry

Fiction | Novel | Middle Grade | Published in 1976

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Character Analysis

Cassie Logan

As the novel’s first-person narrator, 9-year-old Cassie delivers her family’s story with intelligence, honesty, and a quick temper. Cassie’s curiosity makes her a well-informed narrator; it leads her to eavesdrop on adults’ conversations and to persist in asking challenging questions. When a Wallace brother shoots David Logan, for instance, Cassie tells Stacey she “Ain’t moving” until he tells her what happened (213). By designating a young girl as the narrator of her novel, Mildred D. Taylor presents upsetting information about racism and violence in an accessible format for middle grade readers. Readers learn about the history of Reconstruction and the Jim Crow South along with Cassie, but they also hear about her love for her family and for the outdoors. The pleasure Cassie takes in activities like “wander[ing] through the old forest and sprawl[ing] lazily on the banks of the pond” prevents the novel’s mood from becoming too heavy (276).

Cassie’s growth from naïve child to self-aware young woman gives the story its structure. The novel opens with Cassie learning about the Berry’s burning and closes with her response to T.J.’s arrest. In between those events, Cassie feels “as if the world had turned upside down with [her] in it” (129).