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To What Extent Does Mildred Taylor Portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times?

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Introduction

To What Extent Does Mildred Taylor Portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times? The novel 'Roll of Thunder' is based around racism and discrimination, during the 1930's. Mildred Taylor has chosen to set her novel in a time where black people were discriminated against. The context in which the story is set is a conscious choice of the writer to emphasise the extent of racism. T.J. is used by Mildred Taylor to represent the injustices the Black community were subjected to in these times. Although T.J. is not portrayed as a victim throughout the novel, he is certainly seen as a victim during the concluding chapters of the book. The narrative is by a young girl of ten years, Cassie. Cassie is a very opinionated, strong willed character who tends to judge people at face value, without taking other factors into consideration. This could be seen as a hindrance in such a novel, a novel that is being used to exploit racism and could benefit from a more open-viewed narrator. In this book however, the character is purposefully made to be single-minded by Mildred Taylor because it encourages the reader to think in more depth about the story. The author uses this narrow perspective of T.J. ...read more.

Middle

Papa and Stacey play important roles in truly understanding T.J. and why he does the things he does. By viewing Stacey's actions towards T.J. and understanding the situation T.J. is subjected to via Papa it is possible for the reader to understand why T.J. does specific things. The underlying facts of T.J.'s life can help the reader comprehend why he can act so irrationally at times. His dependence on White people must surely explain why he feels that he owes Whites something and that he should respect them. T.J. has been bought up in the debt of White people, so understandably his personality has formed in such a way that he respects Whites and does not have the confidence like Cassie to speak out against their discriminative attitudes. When Papa talked about the land to Cassie it also showed a deep affection within the Logan family, a love of the land and a love of each other. The Logans are a close-knit family who care deeply about one another and for a Black family were doing very well, owning there own piece of land rather than sharecropping. Comparing this to T.J.'s poverty stricken life and troubled family, his desire to be liked by the Simmses' seems more reasonable. ...read more.

Conclusion

T.J does not deserve the punishment the men imply he will receive. T.J. made a mistake, but a mistake that's consequences were only so serious because of the times in which he lives. The White men show clear prejudice and discrimination, they do not consider how severe the punishment should be. They immediately decide that T.J. should be killed, this decision is merely based around the colour of his skin and the fact that they feel they are superior. Mildred Taylor does portray T.J. as a Victim of the Times frequently within the novel. It is during the last chapters that it becomes most clear but throughout the book it is always an underlying factor. The moving ending of the book really brings the portrayal to light. T.J is portrayed as a victim, in the way that however he behaved, even when he tried so hard to be friends with R.W and Melvin, he was never going to be an equal because he was Black. The most powerful sentence in the novel, 'I cried for TJ. For TJ and the land,' is the ending note of the book. Even Cassie whom throughout the novel had disliked T.J. finally realised he was a victim of the cruel times in which they lived. Erin Baker Page 1 ...read more.

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