Mildred D. Taylor sets her story of racial strife and unequal opportunity, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry," in the southern United States during the Depression. Economic hardship serves to heighten the tension and danger that the four African-American children at the heart of the story face everyday.
“You keep it up and make us late for school, Mama’s gonna wear you out,” I threatened, pulling with
exasperation at the high collar of the Sunday dress Mama had made me wear for the first day of school—as if that event were something special.
having the nap worn away so that the threads show through
For it he would work the long, hot summer pounding steel; Mama would teach and run the farm; Big Ma, in her sixties, would work like a woman of twenty in the fields and keep the house; and the boys and I would wear
threadbare clothing washed to dishwater color; but always, the taxes and the mortgage would be paid.
frantically along the road looking for a foothold and, finding one, hopped onto the bank, but not before the bus had sped past enveloping him in a scarlet haze while laughing white faces pressed against the bus windows.
But even so, after today a number of the older students would not be seen again for a month or two, not until the last puff of cotton had been
gleaned from the fields, and eventually most would drop out of school altogether.
someone who exhibits great independence in thought and action
Although Mama had been a teacher at Great Faith for fourteen years, ever since she had graduated from the Crandon Teacher Training School at nineteen, she was still considered by many of the other teachers as a disrupting
Stacey and Christopher-John left to change into their work clothes, but Little Man sat on the side bench looking totally
dejected as he gazed at his pale-blue pants crusted with mud from the knees down.
Five minutes later we were skidding like frightened puppies toward the bank again as the bus
accelerated and barreled down the narrow rain-soaked road; but there was no place to which we could run, for Stacey had been right.
As I slipped into my seat Miss Crocker looked at me oddly and shook her head, but when she did the same thing as Mary Lou and Alma sat down, I decided that my mud was no more
noticeable than anyone else’s.