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Warriors Don’t Cry

Melba Patillo Beals


Key Facts

Key Facts

full title · Warriors Don’t Cry: A Searing Memoir of the Battle to Integrate Little Rock’s Central High

author · Melba Patillo Beals

type of work · Memoir

genre · Nonfiction, memoir, biography

language · English

time and place written · 1990s, The United States

date of first publication · 1994

publisher · Pocket Books

narrator · Melba Patillo Beals

point of view · The book is the story of Melba’s teenage life, and the adult writer, Melba, is both the narrator and the protagonist. Melba tells the story from the first person point of view.

tone · Restrained anger

tense · Past

setting (time) · Early 1950s

setting (place) · Little Rock, Arkansas

protagonist · Melba Patillo

major conflicts · The attempt made by Melba and eight other African-American students to integrate into Little Rock High School

rising action · The Supreme Court rules in Brown v. the Board of Education that separate schools are not equal; Melba volunteers to go to the all-white Central High School; Melba and eight other African-American students enter Central High.

climax · Ernie becomes the first black student to graduate from Central High School.

falling action · Unable to return for a second year at Central High School, Melba moves to California and lives with a white family; she becomes a journalist and reports on injustices around the world.

themes · The shifting of power through resistance, the prominence of race relations

motifs · Self-reliance, the loss of innocence

symbols · Central High School, Melba’s Easter dress, journalism

foreshadowing · After Melba’s grandmother rescues her from the all-white bathroom and sneaks her past the police, they drive away from Central High School. Melba wonders what it is like to go to school there. This foreshadows her eventual enrollment at Central and the subsequent struggles that she will endure.

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