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Big Ma makes a trip to Strawberry to sell her butter, milk and eggs. For the first time, Cassie is permitted to go with her along with Stacey and T.J.. Cassie objects to Big Ma’s market spot which is at the end of the market, well away from the main stream of buyers, but Big Ma explains that she has to take the isolated spot because the good spots are the booths for white people.
After the marketing, Big Ma has business in Jamison’s office. She tells the children to stay in the wagon until she returns. Getting impatient, T.J. suggests that they go to the Mercantile and look around, arguing that they would be doing Big Ma a favor by ordering up their "stuff." T.J. points out a pearl handled gun that he would like to have, then gives his list to Mr. Barnett, the storekeeper. Barnett begins to fill the order but stops several times to fill orders for white people.
Cassie gets angry because of the white people pushing their list in front of her and steps behind the counter in an attempt to get Mr. Barnett’s attention. Mr. Barnett becomes angry, and orders Stacey to get her out of the store. Despondent, Cassie wanders along the sidewalk and accidentally bumps into Lillian Jean Simms. She apologizes, but Lillian demands that Cassie get off the sidewalk. Cassie refuses only to have Mr. Simms shove her off the sidewalk in such a way that she falls in the road. Big Ma returns to the wagon intending to go home, but Mr. Simms will not let them go until Cassie makes a humiliating apology to Lillian Jean. Big Ma orders Cassie to say the words Mr. Simms wants.
Cassie has never been told what to expect in the store. T.J. and Stacey know that even if the storekeeper is waiting on them, he will stop to fill the orders of white people first, making them wait until last. Cassie sees the unfairness in this but not the reason for it. It doesn’t occur to her that she should have to wait because she is black. Later when she bumps into Lillian Jean, Lillian will not accept her apology until she gets off the side walk and addresses her as "Miss" Lillian Jean. Big Ma makes Cassie comply because she knows that worse treatment will follow if she doesn’t.