Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry Chapter 4
For a long time after that night, Cassie is so nervous she seems sick. Her mother worries about her. Cassie wanders around, helping with chores and listening to T.J. talk about how to get out of doing work. Stacey and the others ignore him, until he starts telling them about the "night men." Though they cannot help but be interested, they don't let T.J. know---they don't want him to lengthen the story just to get attention. T.J. explains that the night men were angry because a black man called one of them a liar. The Logan children are relieved that the trouble wasn't about the bus. Later that day, they catch T.J. looking for answers to a test. He tells Stacey, " Friends gotta trust each other, Stacey, 'cause ain't nothin' like a true friend." Chapter 4, pg. 77
Cassie is interested in Mr. Morrison, but Stacey doesn't like him. Cassie knows this is because Stacey wants to be the man of the house while their father is away. At school soon after, Mama beats Stacey because she catches him with cheating notes. Everyone knows that he was only taking the notes away from T.J., but Stacey won't admit this to Mama, so she beats him. T.J. runs away, and Stacey chases him to the Wallace store. Though his brothers and sister are afraid, they cannot leave him, so they follow. The white people there insult them, but they will not leave without Stacey.
In the middle of the fight, Mr. Morrison appears. He takes them home, and tells them he will not tell Mama about their being at the store--because he trusts Stacey to do it. As they return home, they see Harlan Granger's car leaving their house. He has been trying to get Big Ma to sell the land to him again. She will never sell it, because her husband loved the land so much. Big Ma sits looking out at the pond and woods and farmland with Cassie, telling her a story she has heard many times before. She says that her husband bought the land and wanted to cultivate it with her. Though the Granger family tried to buy it from them many times, they would never sell. Then a white man, Mr. Jamison, sold Grandpa some more land, even though he could have gotten more money if he had sold it to Harlan Granger. Granger has always hated Jamison because of this. Big Ma had six children, but only Papa and Hammer are left. She has been with this land her whole life, and will never sell it.
Stacey tells his mother that he went to the Wallace place. She is angry, but she doesn't punish any of them. They don't understand why until a few days later, when she takes them to see one of the Berrys who was burned very badly. The man cannot even speak, and the children are horrified. After they leave, their mother tells them, "The Wallaces did that, children. They poured kerosene over Mr. Berry and his nephews and lit them afire." Chapter 4, pg. 98 Then Mama goes from farm to farm, telling her neighbors not to shop at the Wallaces' store. She does not mention the Berrys. She only says that the Wallaces drink and smoke there. She explains to Cassie that what happened to the Berrys "was something that wavered between the known and the unknown and to mention it outright...was not wise." Chapter 4, pg. 99
Mama wants everyone to stop shopping at the Wallaces, but one man says he cannot go anywhere else, because he has credit at that store. He has no money, but the Wallaces will take a deduction from his salary from his boss in place of cash. Mama asks whether he would shop somewhere else if someone else would give him credit. He is quiet for a while, then says he would. Though he and the children wonder who could possibly do this, Mama says nothing.