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This great story is full of very important themes, such as the battle for free speech and the growth and development of Cara Landry as she struggles to make sense of the world around her, and in particular, her relationship with and understanding of the truth. This is particularly evident in the way that Cara begins her newspaper articles by ruthlessly reporting the truth without thought for the way that it might upset her audience or those she is writing about. This is of course how the initial conflict between herself and Mr. Larson is created, as Cara's first article truthfully but rather harshly presents Mr. Larson as a terrible teacher. It is only later when she shows her mother the article, that the reader finds out that Cara does this in order to express her own pain and sadness. She first did this when her parents divorced, and she tries to fill her writing with all of her sadness and pain so that those who read it will feel it too. Her mother offers her the following advice:
But when you are publishing all that truth, just be sure there’s some mercy, too.
Cara from this point on in the novel is slowly able to learn how to temper her truth with mercy, and this is shown through the "good-hearted" newspaper that she produces with her class and the motto she chooses for her newspaper, which is "Truth and Mercy." Her commitment to truth is something that is further established as she uses her writing to support Mr. Larson as he is facing a disciplinary hearing. Cara comes to realise how the truth can be tempered with mercy in order to achieve good ends and to support and help others.
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