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Free Study Guide-Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor-Free Notes
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CHAPTER 11

Summary

From the night of Davidís injury, Mr. Morrison has appointed himself to nightlong vigils around the Logan house. He would sit on the porch for awhile, then stand at the rear of the house, and eventually return to the porch. Everyone knows that he is guarding against some unexpected surprise by the Wallaces. One night Cassie hears strange sounds that are not Mr. Morrison. She opens her outside door to find T.J. who is in serious trouble. He has been badly injured by the Simms brothers who used him to help rob the mercantile in Strawberry.

The Simms had gone from the revival meeting to the mercantile to get the pearl handled pistol for T.J., but the store was already closed. T.J. was afraid of the idea of just going in and taking it, but the Simms boys assured him that it was no problem, they would just say they had borrowed it until Monday and would pay for it then. They slip T.J. in through a storeroom window and he unlocks the doors so they can get in. They break the gun case with an axe and give T.J. the pistol, then try to break the lock off of a wall cabinet. The noise wakens Mr. Barnett who lives in an apartment over the store. He appears on the stairs, then tries wrestle his metal box from Melvin. R.W. hits Mr. Barnett on the back of the head with the flat of the axe and then shoves Mrs. Barnett aside. She falls, hitting her head against a stove.

T.J. wants to go home, but the Simms have other plans. When T.J. threatens to tell everybody who actually hurt the Barnetts, the Simms beat him until he cannot stand and toss him in the back of a truck. Eventually T.J. crawls from the truck, gets a ride to his own neighborhood with a local farmer, then takes a round about way to get to the Logans. He is afraid the Barnetts may be dead.


T.J. talks Stacey and Cassie into helping him get home where he will just tell his own mother that white boys beat him up for no good reason. All of the talking wakes up the other children who wonít be left behind. They all trudge through the forest to the Avery yard where they help T.J. slip into his room through an open window.

Just as the Logans get out of sight into the forest, a row of cars appears on the road-all headed for the Avery house. Kaleb Wallace and his brother Thurston jump from the cars along with other men who surround the house. Kaleb bangs on the door demanding that they bring out the "thieving, murdering nigger." The Logans watch helplessly as R.W. smashes a window allowing several men to climb through. The Avery parents are dragged from the house, the girls thrown through open windows, slapped and spat upon. Claude is hauled out, knocked to the ground and kicked. Then T.J. is dragged out on his knees, his face already bloody. The men find the pearl handled pistol, and when T.J. tries to say something about it, Kaleb kicks him in the stomach.

Mr Jamison appears and tries to tell the men that they ought to let the law decide whether or not T.J. is guilty. Then the sheriff show up and warns them that Granger has vowed to hold everyone of them responsible if any hanging takes place on HIS land. Jamison tries to shield T.J.ís body with his own as the men discuss taking him someplace else and whether or not to use a new rope. Stacey orders Cassie to take the younger children home and get Papa and Mr. Morrison before the Wallaces can hurt the Averys any more.

Notes

It is fairly obvious that the Simms brothers have anticipated repercussions as a result of their actions and have already put the blame on T.J.. They seem to have planned to have T.J. take the fall as they were wearing stocking masks and T.J. was not. T.J. does not ask why they donít have a mask for him, but the dark stockings make it easy to claim that all of the thieves were black. While the story is fiction, a reader has the galling realization that many crimes were probably perpetrated by whites and blamed on helpless blacks who had no way of proving themselves innocent in a society that wanted to believe they were guilty.

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