What is the analysis of Warriors Don't Cry?

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allie-draper | High School Teacher | eNotes Employee

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There are lots of different ways to analyze Warriors Don't Cry—it depends in part on what you feel you learned from it. Here are a couple ideas to get you started!

Melba experiences terrible prejudice and racism when she decides to attend Central High School in Little Rock, Alabama. She learns a lot about what it takes to effect change—not manpower (she and just eight other students lead the charge), but rather an extraordinary amount of courage. Some of the obstacles in her way are unsurprising. Others, however, are; she comes to believe that the profound (though not entirely unanimous) resistance of the white inhabitants of the school and town is entrenched in part because of the way the black community has accepted it. 

Melba also considers what it means to be a victim. She takes her grandmother's words to heart and embraces the idea that she cannot be made a victim unless she believes herself to be one. This echoes her reflections on what she believed was the tacit acceptance among the black community of Little Rock of the status quo—an acceptance born from fear that nevertheless reinforced the status quo. Though Melba understands how persuasive fear of reprisals can be, she refuses to let herself be a victim and unnerves people with smiles and thank yous in the face of cruel comments. 

Warriors Don't Cry also examines the cost of Melba's courage. Her decision comes at a terrible price. Faced with threats, abuse, and physical violence at a level she never anticipated, the fifteen-year-old loses her innocence. Though she doesn't regret the choices she made, she recognizes that the hatred she became the target of changed her irrevocably.

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