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The son of a prominent white family, Link is the white student who helps Melba escape time and time again from the violent segregationists who want to kill her. His father is pro-segregation but appalled by the attacks on Black teenagers and children. Though Link is popular and bound for success in the white world, he helps Melba. In spite of his racist family, Link has a different perspective on Black people because of his close relationship with Nana Healey. Nana Healey is black, and Link loves her and resents the treatment she receives from his parents now that she no longer works for them. Because he knows that Nana Healey is a good and loving person, he can imagine that other Black people might be good and loving as well. Link is the only white student who shows Melba any kindness, and he is the only white person she comes to trust during her time at Central High School.
Though Link undermines the efforts of the violent segregationists, he is never able to openly defy them and declare his friendship with Melba. Link wants to help Melba, but he is fearful of becoming an outsider. While Melba puts aside those fears in order to do something for the greater good, Link hides behind them. He still helps Melba, but he does it in secret. His secretive attitude about their relationship is in part why Melba never seems to return Link’s romantic feelings. When he asks her to flee to the North and escape the angry white people, Melba feels he is asking her to give up. What is most important to Melba at this time is proving that she cannot be defeated by the anger and hatred of the segregationists. Because Link is just a normal teenager, and because everything has come relatively easy for him, he will never understand this.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Warriors Don't Cry!