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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How does each character react to Robbie's death in Tears of a Tiger?

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The three boys, Andy, Tyrone, and B.J., were in the car with Robbie and have the most intense reactions.

Andy, obviously, is devastated and overcome with guilt.  He cannot get Robbie out of his mind, and even when the courts punish him, he thinks it isn't enough.  When it snows, he tells Keisha,

"So cold. So cold. I can't stand it! I can't stop thinkin' 'bout Robbie out there frozen and cold in the cemetery.  It's drivin' me crazy." (pg 88)

He even dreams about Robbie.  There is no relief in sleep.  In his dream, Robbie explains,

"It's all your fault, you know.  All your fault.  You got the beer.  You drove the car.  You smashed into the wall.  You killed me.  And now you gotta come and keep me company." (pg 101).

He has killed his best friend and cannot come to terms with it. 

Tyrone reacts differently.  He says that initially he was happy to be alive.  In the letter he wrote to Andy at the end of the book, Tyrone says,

"Of course we felt horrible because Rob was dead.  I will never, never forget him or that terrible night.  And we felt guilty too --- guilty that we had lived and he had died.  I been able to deal with the guilt - day by day it gets easier to handle. " (pg 171)

B.J. feels guilt too. However, he feels guilt because he wasn't drinking that night. He turns to God for support.  When the accident first happens, he tells God,

"Maybe I shoulda tried to stop them that night.  Maybe I shoulda been drivin'. " (pg 16)

However, at the end of the book, Tyrone says in his letter to Andy that....

"We didn't die in that accident for a reason.  B.J. says it's because the Lord needed Robbie up there, and he needed us down here.  (I guess you know B.J.'s gotten real religious lately.)" (pg 172)

Gerald wasn't with the boys when they had the accident. Gerald lives in an abusive household.  His stepfather beats him, and all the kids know it. You can learn more about it in another book by Sharon Draper titled Forged by Fire.   Because of his hard lifestyle, he has a little different slant on the situation.  He writes an essay in which he wishes that there weren't five dollar bills.  The reason?  A five dollar bill was all the boys needed to buy the beer, and all it bought was five dollars worth of death.  He is sad.  He misses Robbie.  However, he has this attitude that those things happen, it was an accident, and that is life.  He is able to move past it.

Keisha is sad, but she is also a realist who sets goals and looks to the future. She writes in an English essay on friendship that...

"When the bad times come, like when Robbie died, a friend is the most important thing in the world.  Rhonda and I cried together, went to the funeral together, and tried to help the boys involved as much as we could.  She and Tyrone are doing fine. I'm having a rough time with Andy.  I think it's because he lost his best friend and it's hard for him to get over the guilt and the pain.......Even though nobody can take Robbies place, all of us, as friends can survive the situation." (pg 118)

 Rhonda also remarks that she felt sick inside and angry with Andy and the boys for drinking. It frightened her to know that someone their age could die. (pg 19)


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