illustration of a car crash, a grave, empty liquor bottles, a basketball, and a young man crying

Tears of a Tiger

by Sharon M. Draper

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Student Question

In Tears of a Tiger, why do teachers believe Andy can overcome his problems?

Quick answer:

In Tears of a Tiger, the teachers at Hazelwood High School believe that Andy can deal with and overcome his problems for various reasons. Sheila believes that Andrew will survive because he is Black. Coach Ripley believes he will survive because he is displaying a positive attitude. Mrs. Thorne believes that Andrew can deal with his problems because he has an ordinary reaction to the trauma that he suffered.

Expert Answers

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Andrew Jackson’s various teachers, coaches, and counselors all take different approaches as to why they believe that Andy can deal with and overcome his problems.

Sheila, Andrew’s history teacher, is of the shockingly racist opinion that he will survive the incident because he is Black. In Sheila’s opinion, “Black kids are tough” because of the life experiences that they endure. She is blinded by the veneer of Andy’s jokes and ongoing attempts to make the other kids laugh and assumes that he is “tough” enough to be just fine.

Coach Ripley Is Andy’s basketball coach, and he is a caring, compassionate man. After basketball season ends, he asks Andy how he’s doing and believes him when he explains that things are going better and that he’s doing well with regard to his grades, his plans for the future, and his relationship with Keisha. Coach Ripley believes that Andy can deal with and overcome his problems with “a positive attitude.”

Mrs. Thorne is a counselor at Hazelwood High School, and she is of the opinion that Andy can deal with and overcome his problems because his reaction to the trauma that he went through has not been out of the ordinary. She notes that his “anger, depression, even tears” are signs that he is working through what happened. She makes the point that she would have been more concerned if he had not displayed these signs.

Tragically, of course, all these teachers are wrong in the conclusions that they draw, and Andy’s suicide is proof that he did not have the emotional tools and resources to deal with and overcome his problems.

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