Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Chapter 12
When they get home, their parents are relieved to see them. As soon as the children tell their story, their father gets his gun. He says, "This thing's been coming a long time...and T.J. just happened to be the one foolish enough to trigger it." Chapter 12, pg. 259 Mama begs him not to use the gun, but he says there is no other way--then he thinks for a moment. He runs off, and the women and children wait in terror. They smell smoke. The cotton fields are on fire, and they assume the lightning has caused it. Big Ma and Mama fight the fire, telling the children to stay inside. Jeremy appears later that night, and tells the children that everyone is fighting the fire--even R.W. and Melvin. He tells them their father and Stacey are all right. Finally, the rain comes. Once the fire is completely out, Little Man and Cassie go out to look around, but Christopher-John refuses to leave, since Mama told them to stay there. The two children see white and black people working side by side in the fields, but none of them talk to each other.
They return to their house and Mama and Big Ma come home. Mama tells them that T.J. was taken with the sheriff. There was no other violence, because everyone was busy fighting the fire. Cassie can see she isn't getting the whole story, so she waits until she can talk to Stacey alone, and then asks him to tell her everything. He says that Mr. Jamison tried to block the road with his car, but eventually the Wallaces and their friends just moved the car. Then Mr. Granger came running down the road yelling, "There's smoke coming from my forest yonder!" Chapter 12, pg. 271 So the men gave T.J. to the sheriff and went off to fight the fire together, so that all their crops wouldn't burn. Just then, Papa, Morrison and Jamison approach the house. Jamison tells Papa that the shopkeeper is dead. He says, "Folks thinking...that lightning struck that fence of yours and started that fire...it's better, I think, that you stay clear of this whole thing now..." Chapter 12, pg. 273 Cassie realizes that Papa started the fire, to stop the men from hanging T.J. without using his gun. Later, Papa tells the children that T.J. is in jail. He doesn't know if T.J. will be killed or not. Cassie is shocked. "What happened to T.J. in the night I did not understand, but I knew that it would not pass. And I cried for those things which had happened in the night and would not pass." Chapter 12, pg. 276