Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

Start Free Trial

In Warriors Don't Cry, why was the store one of Melba's favorite places to go?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are two instances in the memoir in which Melba refers to a store. In the first instance, she talks about how much her family enjoyed going grocery shopping on pay day at Mr. Waylan's store, which mainly serves black families in Little Rock. However, when her family points out that Mr. Waylan is overcharging them, he refuses to make an adjustment, insisting that he has allowed them to purchase groceries on credit, so they owe him the money. As a result of what he perceives as the Pattillos' insubordination, he bans them from the store. This is a negative memory that foreshadows some of the more violent and dehumanizing racism that Melba will later experience after attending Little Rock High School.

The second instance in which Melba mentions a store is in the summer before she enrolls at Little Rock High. Her family takes a trip to Cincinnati to visit her Uncle Clancey and Aunt Julie. To Melba, Cincinnati is like a paradise, due to its relative freedom from racism. One day, Melba goes with her family to a department store and delights in touching objects and being kindly asked by the salespeople if they can help her with anything. She enjoys the experience because she is treated as any other customer would be; whereas, at a department store in Little Rock, she would be ignored by the salespeople. In other instances, she might be followed around under suspicion of theft or to hurry her out of the store so as not to upset the white customers.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team