Warriors Don't Cry

by Melba Pattillo Beals

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Student Question

How did Grandmother India, Danny, or Link help Melba survive her year at Central High School?

Quick answer:

In the play, Melba's grandmother, Danny from the 101st Airborne Division, and Link (a white student) help her to survive her year at Central High.

Expert Answers

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Grandmother India helps Melba understand the significance of what she is doing to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. She tells Melba that "God's warriors don't cry" and that Melba is a soldier in the war for justice for African-American people. Her grandmother also tells Melba that she can't cry, even though she is often the victim of harassment and attacks, because God is beside her in her campaign for justice. Her grandmother gives her a sense of meaning during a difficult time and inspires her with her religious faith. Grandmother India also helps Melba realize her own self-worth, and when other students are belittling Melba, she remembers that her grandmother told her that God loves her.

Danny is a soldier with the 101st Airborne Division who is assigned to protect Melba in the halls of Central High School. He helps her when another student throws acid at her, and he saves her from permanent blindness by washing the acid out of her eyes. Though he is not supposed to get personally involved with Melba, he tells her to be brave, and his words inspire her. Finally, Link is a white student who is sympathetic to Melba. When a student is heading towards her, intent on harming her, Link gives Melba the keys to his car and tells her to drive away. Link continually lets Melba know what the segregationists have planned for her so that she can remain safe. Because he cares for her, Melba remains safe and realizes that not all the white students are opposed to her presence at Central High School.

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