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Mr. Morrison is an extremely big and strong older man whom Papa brings home from the railroad. Mr. Morrison got in a fight with some white men and was fired from the railroad. He helps to protect the Logans, watching outside their house at night, and stays on with the family even after he injured the Wallaces when they attacked Papa. His own family was brutally murdered by a lynch mob during Reconstruction and he says that the Logans are like family to him.
The allusion to the novel's title functions as a means of foreshadowing Mr. Morrison's significance in the novel. His voice, Cassie notices, is like "the roll of low thunder." Understanding that Mr. Morrison may be in danger, the reader can equate the threat represented by the sound of thunder with the threat to Mr. Morrison. His presence in the story marks the first entrance of an outsider into the safety of "Logan land" and suggests that, like thunder before lightening, Mr. Morrison's presence will herald dangerous changes.
Mr. Morrison's physical appearance is symbolic of his place in society. The scar on his face and deep lines show he has been literally, as well as economically, hurt by a white society that will dismiss a black man defending himself but will not fire his two white aggressors. Mr. Morrison's penetrating eyes demonstrate his spirit of resistance and his ability to see to the truth. His immediate explanation to Mrs. Logan of why he lost his job shows how highly he values the truth.