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IMPORTANT QUOTATIONS / QUOTES
1. "To all our little first grade friends only today starting on the road to knowledge and education, may your tiny feet find the pathways of learning steady and forever before you."
Attribution/Analysis - Miss Crocker on the first day of School. The teacher means well, but has learned to conform to what is expected of her by the white school board. In spite of what she says, education is given to these children grudgingly and with many inaccuracies. (pg.19)
2. "12.....September 1933....Very Poor..........nigra."
Attribution/Analysis - This is from the label inside the "new" books. Eleven children have used the books and worn them out before they were handed over to the black schools. Cassie and Little Man are outraged to be considered only good enough to handle the very worst of the white castoffs. This was typical of black schools throughout the south prior to integration. (pg. 25)
3. "Yesím, he can. He been reading since he was four. He canít read all them big words, but he can read them columns. See whatís in the last row. Please look, Miz Crocker."
Attribution/Analysis - Cassie is defending her little brother regarding the books. Miss Crocker at first refuses to look, and then says "thatís what you are." Perhaps it is self-preservation, but Miss Crocker is in a state of denial in trying to convince herself that there is no problem with the school. (pg. 28)
4. "Biting the hand that feeds you. Thatís what youíre doing, Mary Logan, biting the hand that feeds you."
Again Mama laughed. "If thatís the case, Daisy, I donít think
I need that little bit of food."
Attribution/Analysis - Mary Logan and Miss Crocker are discussing the book situation. Mary has covered the offensive labels with brown paper and says that maybe someone should come and see all the things they need in order to conduct a proper school. Miss Crocker accuses Mary of being ungrateful for what they are given, but Mary doesnít really see the need to be grateful for being handed someone elseís trash. (pg. 30)
5. "Friends gotta trust each other, Stacey, Ďcause ainít nothiní like a true friend."
Attribution/Analysis - T.J. to Stacey after being caught looking through the school stuff in Mary Loganís room. He had just mentioned that the notes for the test should be somewhere around there, so the other children assume he was looking for them. T.J. makes light of the idea that they would suspect him of cheating and tells Stacey that they should trust each other. Unfortunately, trusting T.J. is like walking into a trap. Furthermore, when T.J. practices his own advice, he ends up trusting the wrong people for the wrong reason. (pg. 77)
6. "Sometimes a personís gotta fight," he said slowly. "But that store ainít the place to be doing it. From what I hear, folks like them Wallaces got no respect at all for colored folks and they just think itís funny when we fight each other."
Attribution/Analysis - Mr. Morrison after breaking up the fight between Stacey and T.J. and loading the kids into the wagon to take them home. He understands that Stacey had a good reason for fighting T.J., but to do so in front of a store owned by whites is simply turning a private issue into a sport for people whose only motive is one of mockery.( pg. 87)
7. "As we passed one of the counters, I spied Mr. Barnett wrapping an order of pork chops for a white girl. Adults were one thing; I could almost understand that. They ruled things and there was nothing that could be done about them. But some kid who was no bigger than me was something else again."
Attribution/Analysis - Cassie as she realizes that Mr. Barnett, owner of the Mercantile, is waiting on a third person ahead of them after taking T.J.ís order. This is Cassieís initiation into the fact of life that black people of any age are consistently forced to take a back seat to white people of any age. Stacey and T.J. take the treatment in silence because, as Stacey says, they know how to act. They know how they have to act if they donít want to be driven out of the store.( pg. 110)
8. "So now, even though seventy years have passed since slavery, most white people still think of us as they did back then-that weíre not as good as they are-and people like Mr. Simms hold on to that belief harder than some other folks because they have little else to hold on to. For him to believe that he is better than we are makes him think that heís important simply because heís white."
Attribution/Analysis - Mamaís explanation to Cassie about why the Simms think they are better than blacks. This occurs after Cassie has been kicked out of the store for speaking up about not being waited on. She walks despondently on the board sidewalk until she accidentally bumps into Lillian Jean Simms. Her initial apology is not accepted as Lillian Jean wants her to get off the walk and to call her "Miz" Lillian Jean. When Cassie refuses, Mr. Simm grabs her arm from behind, twisting her off of the walk and making her fall. Not satisfied with that, he wonít let Big Ma drive off in the wagon until Cassie has given Lillian Jean the apology he wants to hear. (pg. 129)
9. "If you want something and itís a good thing and you got it in the right way, you better hang onto it and donít let nobody talk you out of it. You care what a lot of useless people say Ďbout you, youíll never get anywhere Ďcause thereís a lotta folks donít want you to make it."
Attribution/Analysis - Uncle Hammer scolding Stacey for letting T.J. trick him out of his new coat. There was nothing wrong with the coat except that the sleeves were a little long, but T.J. called him a "fat preacher" until Stacey agreed to let him "borrow" it. It isnít the value of the gift that makes Hammer angry, but the fact that he allowed someone else to take advantage of him just because he couldnít take a little teasing.(pg. 143)
10. "During slavery there was some farms that mated folks like animals to produce more slaves. Breeding slaves brought a lot of money for them slave owners, Ďspecially after the government said they couldnít bring no more slaves from Africa, and they produced all kinds of slaves to sell on the block. And folks with enough money, white men and even free black men, could buy Ďzactly what they wanted. My folks was bred for strength like they folks and they grand folks Ďfore Ďem. Didnít matter none what they thought Ďbout the idea. Didnít nobody care."
Attribution/Analysis - Mr. Morrison telling his life story on Christmas Eve. His parents had been "mated" for their size and strength, but they loved each other and their children and tried to protect their family from the night-men. The night his sisters and parents were all killed, Mr. Morrison was only 6, but he says that he makes himself remember. The explanations help Cassie to understand why black/white relations are what they are. (pg. 149)