in chapter 5
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Mr. Simmons demands that Cassie apologize to his daughter, although Jeremy insists she already did. Cassie tries to run away and is met by Big Mama. Mr. Simms demands that Cassie say "I'm sorry, Miz Lillian Jean," and Big Mama reluctantly makes her comply. Cassie says it and runs crying into the wagon, thinking this is the cruelest day that she has ever endured.
When Cassie cries at the end of the chapter, her tears represent her loss of innocence. Her tears do not mean that she is a child, as they did in the previous chapter when she broke the bowl, but instead show that she is being pushed away from her childhood innocence.
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Cassie, the protagonist, is a nine year old girl, who grew up at an early age due to the color of her skin; she was a witness to the violence and punishments of racist times when blacks weren’t accepted into society. She grew up too fast by losing the innocence she had, once she “left” her home and went places such as the Barnett’s Store, had an encounter with Lillian Jean, and Mama was forced to teach her about the status quo. She learned about the way of life and had two choices: fight against it or accept it and live with it.