Irresponsible Actions - Mildred D. Taylor's Historical Fiction Novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Irresponsible Actions - Mildred D. Taylor's Historical Fiction Novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry

Making a good decision is very important and could reflect on later actions in life. The historical fiction novel, Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, Mildred D. Taylor describes the actions of two teenage boys who do not choose the right path in their lives. Growing up in Mississippi in the 1930’s, Stacey and TJ are faced with racism during the Depression. Protective and mature, Stacey Logan values his family while they struggle to keep their own land. Unlike Stacey, TJ values popularity and the thoughts of others toward him, therefore, the decisions he makes lead him down the wrong path in his life. Both Stacey and TJ are treated differently because they are African-American; yet, while Stacey is trying to help his family out, TJ does not have any family support to keep him out of trouble or to correct any of his mistakes.

When Stacey is troubled by bad decisions, he is guided to make better choices by his family. As the Logan children start to dig holes, Stacey says, “’ Cassie, you start over there on that side of the road right across from me. That’s right, don’t get too near the edge . . . it’s gotta look like it’s been washed out”’ (51). Trying to get back and the Jefferson Davis bus, Stacey has created a plan to destroy their bus. After the bus was destroyed, Stacey then felt guilty about his actions. Mama and Stacey are talking, then she asks him about his new coat, and Stacey replies,”’ The coat was too big for me and . . . TJ said it made me look like a preacher . . .”’ (141). Stacey shows that he is letting TJ manipulate him and will listen to anything TJ has to say. Not standing up to himself, Stacey shows he is not true to his own beliefs or actions. Mama does not like that TJ’s actions are turning into Stacey’s actions and could end up leading him down the same road as TJ. Later, Stacey realizes the trouble TJ has gotten himself into, and Stacey exclaims to Cassie,”’ He’s hurt real bad, Cassie. I gotta het him home”’(249). Once TJ is injured, Stacey feels that he needs to be the bigger person and needs to help TJ out. However, the other Logan children do not feel that it is best to be helping out TJ after all the damage to their family has been done by TJ. With these decisions made by Stacey, Stacey’s future seems to be heading down the same road as TJ’s; which is not very bright.

Rude and manipulative, TJ’s thoughts and actions have lead to mistakes he cannot fix and does not learn from them. One mistake TJ makes is during a big test and he slips Stacey cheat notes, getting Stacey in trouble, Clarence says, “’And old TJ just sat there and ain’t said a word”’(82). TJ made the decision to cheat on the test; nevertheless, he blamed it on someone else. That was the first time he cheated, and he made the same mistake again later in the novel. After being confronted by the Logan children, TJ confesses, “’Oh, all right. All right. So maybe what if I did say somethin’ ‘bout that Miz Logan?”’(193). Knowing he did the wrong thing, Stacey does not want to be called out by the Logan’s; therefore, he tries to ease his way through the problem without getting the Logan children upset. Since he did make that mistake, the Logan’s are standing up to him because of Mama losing her job and no work besides cotton picking. When the Logan children find out that it is TJ’s fault that Mama got fired, he said, “’Got me better friends than ‘yall! They give me things and they treat me like I’m a man . . . and they white too . . .”’ (194). Trying to show that TJ doesn’t care that the Logan’s are no longer his friends, he brags about having white friends. His white ‘friends’ aren’t actually his friends; they talk behind TJ’s back and use him to steal things. Throughout the story, TJ does not make many good decisions and he loses friends; yet, he never learns to learn from any of his mistakes.

Making a decision is very important in one’s life and could lead their future down a superior path or it could lead down a terrible path; in this case, TJ’s life seems to be headed down a horrific path, while Stacey’s life is headed down the better path. Stacey shows his maturity level rising when he finally stands up to TJ and does not let TJ manipulate him anymore. Stacey has matured faster than TJ along the way because Stacey’s family has helped him make better choices; meanwhile, having a sick father, TJ continues to make the same mistakes and they are not corrected. Parents and friends definitely influence a teenager’s path in their future so it is better to listen to peers who have a bright future ahead of them. Stacey could have easily chosen the same path TJ took, which was the wrong path, but choosing to not to hang out at the Wallace store or hanging out with R.W. and Melvin impacted Stacey’s future massively. TJ could have turned his life around just by choosing not to hang out with the Wallace’s; but instead he did, and his life went downhill from that point on. Making wise choices is very important; it could indicate how far one goes in life, along with their career. Staying involved with sports or clubs can easily keep children out of trouble, and choosing the right people to hang out with will determine whether you have a brilliant future or not.