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Roll Of Thunder Essay, Research Paper

After reading Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred Taylor, many issues were

brought to my attention. It was an accurate, and realistic portrayal of prejudice,

discrimination, harassment, and cultural differences that were prevalent in the 1930’s. I

believe that this book is an excellent tool to help students connect with sensitive, and

complicated human issues that are prevalent today in our society.

Mildred Taylor, wrote several books, such as, Mississippi Bridge, The Road to

Memphis, and several other treasures. These works, along with Roll of Thunder, are

excellent tools to introduce multicultural issues into the classroom. The issues of racism,

prejudice, and stereotyping, are an important aspect of curriculum, that I feel often go

unnoticed, or untouched. Books, such as, the ones I have mentioned, introduce cultural,

ethnic, racial, and other social issued that delve inside our individual value system, and

make us aware of our own personal biases that we may be carrying. As future educators,

it is our job to get at the root of these issues, and do our personal best to remove the inner

biases that the children have learned, whether it be from their parents, or other classmates.

We need to get deep into these issues, and not simply touch the surface. A lot of times,

multicultural issues are discussed, but not thoroughly, the result is that the students remain

“untouched” by the experience. Our job, as educators, is to get the students to actually feel

the situations, and get them to reflect on themselves, and how these issues are directly

related to them and those around them.

Roll of Thunder, is a perfect book to use as a lead-in, to issues such as the Civil

Rights Movement. It could also be used for a classroom discussion on the government

policy “separate but equal”, which actually offered a legal way to discriminate against

blacks. We could also get the students involved in discussions, such as, what were the

racial conflicts between the blacks, and whites in the south, in the 1930’s, and compare

them to today. Also, another good discussion that could arise from the book, would be to

determine how individuals helped eliminate the discrimination that African Americans have

experienced.

The story of Roll of Thunder, had several key issues and scenes. One that particularly

struck me, was a scene described between Cassie, Stacey, and Jeremy. “Stacey turned,

stared into his blue eyes and said coldly, ‘why don’t you leave me alone? How come you

always hanging ’round us anyway?’ Jeremy grew even more pale. ‘C-cause I just likes

y’all,’ he stammered. Then he whispered, ‘w-was it the bus again?’ No one answered him

and he said no more. When we reached the crossroads, he looked hopefully at us as if we

might relent and say good bye. But we did not relent and as I glanced back at him

standing alone in the middle of the crossing, he looked as if the the world itself was slung

around his neck. It was only until then that I realized that Jeremy never rode the bus, no

matter how bad the weather.” (Taylor, Roll of Thunder, Pg.49) This particular passage hit

a cord with me. Jeremy was an extremely sensitive child, and had the strength and

courage not to succumb to the prejudices of the rest of the white community. Little

Jeremy, happened to be in the middle of every major issue in the novel, and witnessed

everything from his “tree”. I really admired him.

Another important scene, that held a strong impact, was when the mother brought the

children to see Mr. Berry after the burning. Instead of punishing them, for going to the

Wallace Store, she decides that it is time to face the brutal reality of the burning. This

brought everything to life, not only to the Logan children, but as well for the reader. It is

important to discuss these issues in a classroom, as disturbing as they may be. These are

real issues, not something that should be covered up, or made light of. Teachers need to

focus on reality, it is not until then, we can truly say that we have attempted to bring

awareness into our classroom. Not only do we have issues such as racism, and social

injustice, we also have the issue of death to deal with . T.J’s inevitable death was

traumatic for everyone, especially Cassie. Introducing death in the classroom, is also very

important. Rarely are students invited to explore how books intersect with their lives.

Sometimes, books provide us with an instant common experience on which we can build.

As a future educator, I am going to take it upon myself to make a difference, and have a

positive impact in the lives of young adults. I want to encourage my students to read

quality literature, that illuminates the conflicts and joys of cultural diversity.


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