Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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Discussion Topic

The significance and reasoning behind the title "Warriors Don't Cry."


The title "Warriors Don't Cry" signifies the resilience and bravery of the Little Rock Nine, who faced intense adversity during the desegregation of Central High School. It underscores their strength and determination to not show vulnerability despite the challenges and hostility they encountered.

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What does the title Warriors Don't Cry mean?

The title of Warriors Don't Cry means that true warriors have faith in God and don't entertain fear or sorrow because of their belief. They get back up when a battle knocks them down.

When Melba is unable to cope with what's happening at Central High, she feels despair. She says:

I ran to my room and fell onto the bed, burying my face in the pillow to hide the sobs that wrenched my insides. All my disappointment over not getting into Central High and the mob chase as well as the big sudden changes in my life over the past few weeks came crashing in on me.

When she's at her lowest, her grandmother tells her that she'll never cry again. She tells her that true warriors have faith that God is always on their side, so they don't cry. It's a cue for Melba to have faith in God throughout her journey and not to get bogged down in sorrow. Her grandmother says:

"You’ll make this your last cry. You're a warrior on the battlefield for your Lord. God’s warriors don't cry, 'cause they trust he's always by their side. The women of this family don't break down in the face of trouble. We act with courage, and with God's help, we ship trouble right on out."

When Melba faces the cruel people at Central High who don't want her there because of the color of her skin, she sometimes wants to give up. Only her faith in God and in herself pushes her through. She's a warrior against their prejudice and ignorance. Her grandmother's words make an impact on her and give her strength on days that she might not otherwise have found it.

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What does the title Warriors Don't Cry mean?

This phrase comes from Melba Pattillo Beals's grandmother, who told her, "Even when the battle is long and the path is steep, a true warrior does not give up" (page 3). On the first day that Melba and the other students in the Little Rock Nine attempt to enter Central High School, they are prevented from doing so by a mob that isolates one of the students, Elizabeth Eckford. In response, Melba is understandably upset. Her grandmother, Grandma India, tells Melba that this will be the last time Melba cries. She says, "You're a warrior on the battlefield for your Lord. God's warriors don't cry 'cause they trust he's always on their side" (page 57). Her grandmother's words become a rallying cry for Melba, and she thinks of them often when she faces violence, harassment, and intimidation during the year she integrates Central High School with the other students in the Little Rock Nine. 

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Why did the author choose the title "Warriors Don't Cry"?

I think that it meant that the Little Rock Nine were "warriors" in the cause of desegregation. Instead of crying about their circumstances and feeling sorry for themselves, they chose to "fight" by desegregating the school system.

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