The Blind Side

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Leigh Anne Tuohy Character Analysis

Leigh Anne Tuohy is the matriarch of the Tuohy family, the wife of Sean Tuohy, a devout Christian, and the person most responsible for helping Michael Oher achieve success. It is Leigh Anne who, shortly after Michael enrolls at Briarcrest, notices that Michael needs food, clothing, and shelter, buys him what he needs, and eventually allows him to sleep in the Tuohy home. Leigh Anne says on more than one occasion that she feels compelled to help Michael, though she can never explain exactly why. She and Michael form a tight bond: she seems to understand the quiet, lonely Michael in ways that his teammates, coaches, and even his family cannot. Later on in the book, Leigh Anne is instrumental in convincing Michael’s coaches to allow him to play more often, and in encouraging Michael to be social and enjoy his new life. Leigh Anne is also an important “voice of reason” during Michael’s transition from high school to college—while his coaches prioritize making Michael play football and improve his game, Leigh Anne tries to make Michael feel comfortable and secure with his new life at the University of Mississippi. While Michael Lewis doesn’t probe too deeply into why Leigh Anne chooses to help Michael Oher so generously, he makes it clear that she’s an extraordinarily pious, single-minded woman, who sees it as her duty to help people in need.

Leigh Anne Tuohy Quotes in The Blind Side

The The Blind Side quotes below are all either spoken by Leigh Anne Tuohy or refer to Leigh Anne Tuohy. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Generosity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the W. W. Norton & Company edition of The Blind Side published in 2007.
Chapter 3 Quotes

By the time Michael Oher arrived at Briarcrest, Leigh Anne Tuohy didn’t see anything odd or even awkward in taking him in hand. This boy was new; he had no clothes; he had no warm place to stay over Thanksgiving Break. For Lord’s sake, he was walking to school in the snow in shorts, when school was out of session, on the off-chance he could get into the gym and keep warm. Of course she took him out and bought him some clothes. It struck others as perhaps a bit aggressively philanthropic; for Leigh Anne, clothing a child was just what you did if you had the resources. She had done this sort of thing before, and would do it again. “God gives people money to see how you’re going to handle it,” she said. And she intended to prove she knew how to handle it.

Related Characters: Leigh Anne Tuohy (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 68
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Leigh Anne helps Michael Oher to a degree that many other people would find strange. After seeing that he’s an impoverished, lonely student, Leigh Anne buys Michael clothes and food, and gives him far more love and attention than he’s used to receiving.

A natural question would be, why does Leigh Anne treat Michael so kindly? But in a way, the passage suggests that this is the wrong question—in the sense that it would be wrong to second-guess Leigh Anne’s generosity. Leigh Anne’s peers think that she’s too “aggressively philanthropic,” and later on in the book, the NCAA accuses Leigh Anne of being nice to Michael to ensure that he’d play football for her alma mater. Furthermore, readers of The Blind Side have accused the Tuohys of being condescending toward Michael. While there might be some truth in such an accusation, perhaps it’s not right to immediately assume the worst of Leigh Anne Tuohy. Leigh Anne seems to be a sincere, pious woman, who thinks that, as a prosperous person, it’s her duty to spend her time and money helping others. The better question, indeed, might be why more wealthy people don’t use their money to help those who are less fortunate, particularly as both wealth and poverty are often a matter of luck rather than merit.

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Chapter 6 Quotes

She’d been taking care of his material needs for a good year and a half, and his emotional ones, to the extent he wanted them taken care of, for almost as long. “I love him as if I birthed him,” she said. About the hundredth time someone asked her how she handled his sexual urges, Leigh Anne snapped. “You just need to mind your own business. You worry about your life and I’ll worry about mine,” she’d said. Word must have gotten around because after that no one asked.

Related Characters: Leigh Anne Tuohy (speaker), Michael Oher
Page Number: 146
Explanation and Analysis:

Leigh Anne plays an increasingly important role in Michael Oher’s life: where before she bought him food and clothing, she now provides him with a home and round-the-clock love and support. However, instead of praising Leigh Anne for her extraordinary generosity, some of Leigh Anne’s friends question the new living situation. They wonder how Leigh Anne can trust Michael Oher around her beautiful teenaged daughter, Collins.

It’s easy to detect a racist side to Leigh Anne’s friends’ question: their confusion seems to reflect the racist trope of the aggressive, hyper-sexual black male. Leigh Anne’s response to her friends’ queries is simply that they should mind their own business instead of meddling in her own. Leigh Anne’s response shows that she respects and trusts Michael, and never believes him to be anything other than a kind, gentle young man.

Chapter 7 Quotes

Leigh Anne Tuohy was trying to do for one boy what economists had been trying to do, with little success, for less developed countries for the last fifty years. Kick him out of one growth path and onto another. Jump-start him. She had already satisfied his most basic needs: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, and health care. He had pouted for three days after she had taken him to get the vaccines he should have had as a child. It was amazing he hadn’t already died some nineteenth-century death from, say, the mumps. (When she tried to get him a flu shot the second year in a row, he said, “You white people are obsessed with that flu shot. You don’t need one every year.”) Now she was moving on to what she interpreted as his cultural deficiencies.

Related Characters: Michael Oher (speaker), Leigh Anne Tuohy
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

In this ambiguous passage, we learn about how Leigh Anne tries to educate Michael Oher and help him become a mature adult. Leigh Anne believes that it’s her responsibility to help Michael transcend his impoverished background, both by providing for all his material needs, and by helping him learn how to appreciate the finer things in life. As we learn in the rest of the chapter, Leigh Anne takes Michael to nice restaurants and teaches him how to order food and read a wine list. She also takes him to fancy stores and buys him beautiful suits. Michael Lewis compares Leigh Anne’s actions to those of an economist who tries to help a third world country develop into a thriving industrialized nation: both by giving the nation basic material help (providing food and other necessities) and by giving the nation a strong culture.

The passage is exemplary of much that is admirable about Leigh Anne’s approach: her goal is nothing less than to help Michael Oher grow into a mature, respectable adult. However, when it comes to Michael’s “cultural deficiencies,” it could be argued that Leigh Anne is drawing Michael even further away from the realities of the average American’s life than Michael was when he lived an impoverished life in the inner-city. Similarly, one could argue that Leigh Anne isn’t really helping Michael become an independent adult at all—she’s just spoiling him and perpetuating his dependence on her.

Leigh Anne listened to the doctors discuss how bizarrely lucky Sean Junior had been in his collision with the airbag. Then she went back home and relayed the conversation to Michael, who held out his arm. An ugly burn mark ran right down the fearsome length of it. “I stopped it,” he said.

Related Characters: Michael Oher (speaker), Leigh Anne Tuohy, Sean Tuohy Junior
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:

In this touching passage, Michael Oher has been in a car accident with Sean Junior, and Sean Junior is covered in blood. It ultimately becomes clear that Sean Junior is fine—although he’s bleeding, he didn’t break any bones or even lose teeth. Indeed, the doctors are surprised that Sean Junior is basically unharmed. Only afterwards does Leigh Anne discover what happened: the reason that Sean Junior wasn’t hurt more seriously is that Michael reached out his hand to protect Sean Junior from the force of the air bag.

Michael Oher is an extraordinarily kind, gentle person, and he feels an instinctive need to protect the people he cares about, even if doing so means hurting himself. Michael’s protective instincts also come in handy during football games: the same instinct that leads him to reach out his hand to protect Sean Junior also helps him to excel at protecting the quarterback during football plays.

Then he looked around, as if soaking in every last detail of the Olde English and Country French furnishings, and said, “What a lovely home. I just love those window treatments.” I just love those window treatments. He didn't say, “I just love the way you put together the Windsor valances with the draw drapes,” but he might as well have. Right then Leigh Anne decided that if Nick Saban wasn't the most polished and charming football coach in America, she was ready to marry whoever was.

Related Characters: Nick Saban (speaker), Leigh Anne Tuohy
Page Number: 183
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Nick Saban, the suave, debonair coach for LSU, visits the Tuohy household in order to convince Michael to play football at LSU. Saban is wearing a beautiful Armani suit, and makes a big show of complimenting Leigh Anne’s decorations, knowing that she takes great pride in such matters. In short, Saban has done his homework: he knows exactly what he’s supposed to say to impress the Tuohys and convince Michael to choose LSU.

The passage reminds us of the enormous importance of football to schools like LSU. LSU needs a good football team to generate money and acclaim for itself (at Division I schools like LSU, alumni donations have been shown to correlate very closely with sports success). That’s why it sends a charmer like Saban across the country to impress Michael—and that’s why dozens of other colleges try to do the same thing. However, there’s something disingenuous about Saban’s performance for Michael and the Tuohys. Saban is only trying to charm Michael because he wants Michael’s talent, not because he has any particular respect for Michael as a person. As Michael discovers during his time in college, talented athletes are superficially treated well, but beneath the surface, they’re seen as means to an end—namely, winning games and earning money for the school. In all, Saban’s behavior in this passage foreshadows some of ideas about football as an industry that become important to the book after Michael goes to college.

Chapter 12 Quotes

Then and there Leigh Anne made a decision: she wasn't finished. “I want a building,” she said. “We're going to open a foundation that’s only going to help out kids with athletic ability who don't have the academics to go to college. Screw the NCAA. I don't care what people say. I don't care if they say we're only interested in them because they're good at sports. Sports is all we know about. And there are hundreds of kids in Memphis alone with this story.”

Related Characters: Leigh Anne Tuohy (speaker)
Page Number: 323-324
Explanation and Analysis:

After Michael Oher goes to school at the University of Mississippi, Leigh Anne Tuohy and her husband come under criticism for allegedly manipulating Michael into attending their alma mater; there are even some who say that Leigh Anne and Sean adopted Michael entirely because they wanted to recruit a good athlete for their college. But at least as Lewis portrays the story, such an accusation appears entirely false. Leigh Anne is seemingly motivated by genuine love and compassion for Michael, and for other impoverished Memphis youths as well. And in this passage, we see the full extent of Leigh Anne’s generosity: she wants to open a center to help talented inner-city athletes bring up their grades, so that they can go to college too.

Leigh Anne is single-minded in her quest to help the unfortunate. She acknowledges that some people might say there are better ways for her to spend her money than on a sports foundation—however, she insists, “sports is all we know,” perhaps suggesting that sports, regardless of whether it’s truly important or not, represent a subject that Leigh Anne and her husband know a lot about, and therefore are an excellent way for them to give to charity. In all, the passage is exemplary of what makes Leigh Anne such a compelling character: while some aspects of her character might be distasteful or annoying to people (her Republican beliefs, her Christianity, her love for sports), it’s hard to argue that she’s an exceptionally moral woman who feels a genuine sense of duty to help others, and actually puts her beliefs into action.

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Leigh Anne Tuohy Character Timeline in The Blind Side

The timeline below shows where the character Leigh Anne Tuohy appears in The Blind Side. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 3: Crossing the Line
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...arranges for Michael to get free lunch. A few months later, Sean and his wife, Leigh Anne , are driving by when they notice Michael sitting outside in the snow, wearing shorts.... (full context)
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The next day, Leigh Anne picks up Michael from school and takes him to buy a jacket. She’s a remarkable... (full context)
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In the store, Leigh Anne quickly realizes that almost nothing fits Michael—he’s too big and tall. As Leigh Anne tries... (full context)
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The next day, Leigh Anne devises a way to clothe Michael—get hand-me-downs from NFL athletes—only to learn that nobody in... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Blank Slate
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...however, he refuses to open his hand. While the men try to reason with Michael, Leigh Anne , who’s watching the game, is able to convince him to open it. In the... (full context)
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...Oher is adjusting to his new life, thanks largely to the help of Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy . The Tuohys, especially Leigh Anne, gave Michael emotional support; moreover, they pay for his... (full context)
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...next few months, Michael stays with various teammates’ families. One night, after a track meet, Leigh Anne drives Michael, at Michael’s request, to a trailer in Mississippi, where Michael says he sometimes... (full context)
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...with Sean Junior, the Tuohys’ young son—they play video games for hours at a time. Leigh Anne gives Michael some of the “rules” of living with her: he has to visit his... (full context)
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...is to store as much food as possible. He’s also a neat freak, which pleases Leigh Anne greatly. Sean notes, “It was like God made a child just for us: sports for... (full context)
Chapter 6: Inventing Michael
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While college football coaches fall over themselves to court Michael, Leigh Anne and Sean have doubts about Michael’s football future. Michael is dependent on Leigh Anne and... (full context)
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At school, Collins Tuohy, Leigh Anne and Sean’s daughter, notices that Michael is becoming more outgoing—he no longer looks at the... (full context)
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To obtain proof of address, Michael calls his mother in advance, and Leigh Anne drives him to the house where she leaves. Michael’s mother, whose name is Denise, is... (full context)
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While Leigh Anne waits for Michael to take his test, she thinks about the flak she’s gotten from... (full context)
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Leigh Anne also thinks about Michael’s bad grades: he has a GPA of 1.56, but needs a... (full context)
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...September 2004, Briarcrest plays against Melrose, another local high school, and loses. After the game, Leigh Anne encourages Hugh Freeze to play Michael more often, and run the ball left instead of... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Pasta Coach
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At the end of 2004, Leigh Anne and Sean Tuohy become Michael Oher’s legal guardians. They send out a Christmas card including... (full context)
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...the end of high school, he faces great offers from college coaches. Privately, Sean and Leigh Anne want Michael to play for their alma mater, the University of Mississippi—“their lives were as... (full context)
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Leigh Anne is nervous that, if accepted to an elite football college, Michael won’t be able to... (full context)
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One day, Leigh Anne gets a call from Collins—there’s been an accident. Leigh Anne learns that Michael, while driving... (full context)
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...Fulmer shows up at the Tuohy house, he tries to ingratiate himself with Collins and Leigh Anne , but he doesn’t have Nick Saban’s polish. Nevertheless, Fulmer has a big advantage: the... (full context)
Chapter 8: Character Courses
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...spends his final semester of high school trying to raise his GPA to a 2.65. Leigh Anne calls some of Michael’s old teachers, asking them what Michael needs to do to get... (full context)
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...to find a baby picture—which, traditionally, is included in the Briarcrest yearbook. With much difficulty, Leigh Anne succeeds in finding a picture of Michael as a ten-year-old. Afterwards, she goes on the... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Egg Bowl
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...at the school drinks heavily. However, Sue Mitchell is still his tutor, and Sean and Leigh Anne have built a second house for themselves, less than a mile from campus. Michael has... (full context)
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...a freshman linebacker named Antonio Turner. Antonio boasts that he’d like to have sex with Leigh Anne and Collins. Michael threatens to hit Antonio; Antonio flees to another building, and Michael follows... (full context)
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Leigh Anne tells Sean what’s happened. Sean is reminded of an incident that happened shortly after Michael... (full context)
Chapter 11: Freak of Nurture
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...Thompson suggests that Sean “doesn’t care” about Michael’s past, but Sean insists that he and Leigh Anne are in “no hurry” to learn about Michael: “We got a long time.” (full context)
Chapter 12: And Moses Stuttered
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...Miss, and “all hell broke loose.” Antonio Turner, the teammate Michael beat up for insulting Leigh Anne and Collins, is taken to a coach’s house, while the injured little boy is rushed... (full context)
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...ordeal Michael has remained loyal to his adopted family. He doesn’t believe that Sean and Leigh Anne were manipulating him. He looks at his phone and sees that Sean has been texting... (full context)
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Leigh Anne continues to spend lots of time with Michael Oher. It often occurs to her that... (full context)