Roll Of Thunder, Hear My Cry
“Jeremy Simms & TJ Avery are two relativly minor characters in the story ROTHMC. However, they both reinforce the themes.” Discuss Aprox 1000 words
There are many important Themes in the novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry. These themes include: racial prejudice, loyalty, honesty, friendship, personal integrity and respect for others. Although Jeremy Simms and TJ Avery are fairly minor people in the book, their characters are used to inforce and strengthen the themes of the novel.
We first meet TJ Avery when Cassie, Stacey, Little Man and Christopher-John are walking to school. Right from the very start we find out that none of them actually likes TJ, except for Stacey. The reader sees that he is a liar, a cheat and a coward. He is ashamed of being black and he lets the Logan family down in many ways throughout the novel.
One of the ways that he lets them down is when he gets Miz Logan fired. He went up to the store and told Kaleb Wallace that Miz Logan failed him on purpose and that she was destroying school property.
‘…I got fired…Harlen Granger came to the school with Kaleb Wallace and one of the school board members. Somebody told them about those books I’d pasted over…but that was only an excuse.’; (Pg 151)
This highlights some of the themes by TJ’s total lack of loyalty and personal integrity.
One of TJ’s biggest mistakes in the book is befriending two white boys, R.W. and Melvin Simms (Jeremy’s brothers). He thinks they are his friends and he doesn’t know that they are just using him. By hanging around with these two he ends up getting himself in a lot of trouble. They talk him into stealing the ‘pearl-handled pistol’ from the Barnett’s store.
‘R.W. broke the lock off the gun case with an axe and gave TJ the much-longed-for gun.’;
But it goes terribly wrong and TJ wants out, R.W. and Melvin force him to stay.
‘…R.W. whopped Mr Barnett solidly on the head from behind with the flat of the axe…Mrs Barnett dashed across the room and flailed into R.W….Trying to escapeher grasp, R.W. slapped at her and she fell back, hitting her head against one of the stoves, and did not move…’; (Pg 197)
So, although TJ thought that being friends with white folk would benefit him, he got in a lot of trouble. All the whites come after TJ and try to murder him. Mr Logan sacrifices 1/4 of his cotton in order to save TJ. Because of this incredible act of friendship towards TJ, TJ only got arrested – as opposed to killed. TJ causes a great deal of damage to himself and the people around him and everyone just wishes that he would grow up.
Jeremy Simms is a complementry character. He is a quiet and timid boy who is kind and loyal. He is one of the few white people who see the blacks a equals. He always walks to school with them, despite the fact that he gets ridiculed and beaten by his family and piers.
‘He was often ridiculed by the other children at his school and he had shown up more than once with wide red welts on his arms which Lillian Jean, his older sister, had revealed with satisfaction were the result of his associating with us. Still, Jeremy continued to meet us. (Pg 17)
His family are fairly poor, white sharecroppers who hate all blacks. Jeremy, however, tries not to get involved in this racism. Cassie has her first real experience of racial prejudice when she takes a trip into Strawberry. Cassie accidentally bumps into Lillian Jean. Cassie apologises but Lillian Jean demands that she ‘get down in the road’; and she verbally abuses her. Jeremy tries to help Cassie.
”Ah, let her pass, Lillian Jean, she ain’t done nothin’ to you”;
Then Mr Simms comes along and forces Cassie to apologise. Again Jeremy tries to stand up for Cassie.
”I – I Cassie apologized already.’
‘She d-did Pa. R-right now, ‘fore y’all come, she did-”; (Pg 96)
Another time that Jeremy tries to show his friendship is at Christmas time. He secretly comes over to the Logan’s to give them presents, even though he doesn’t expect anything in return. His father does not know that he is there and he takes this opportunity to give his present of a homemade flute to Stacey.
”Thanks Jeremy, it’s real nice’, Stacey said.
As Jeremy reached the door, I cried After him, ‘Merry Christmas, Jeremy!’ He looked back and smiled shyly. ‘Merry Christmas to y’all too.”;
Although Jeremy would make a much better friend than Stacey, Mr Logan doesn’t want Stacey to get too friendly with Jeremy.
”…Right now you and Jeremy might get along fine but, in a few years he’ll think of himself as a man and you’ll still be a boy to him…”; (Pg 129)
Its rather ironic really, Jeremy is a white boy who wants to be black and TJ is a black boy who wants to be white. Although they are both minor characters in the novel, they help to inforce the themes. Jeremy shows this by possesing all the good characteristics, while TJ reinforces the themes by being the complete opposite to Jeremy.