The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Diary

by

Erin Gruwell

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Zlata Filipović Character Analysis

Compared to Anne Frank because of her depiction of the horrors of war, twelve-year-old Zlata writes from 1992 to 1993 about the effects of the Bosnian war on her hometown, Sarajevo. Trapped in the middle of a genocidal war, Sarajevo was taken under siege and its inhabitants forced to live lives defined by the daily threat of death. Many of Ms. Gruwell’s students, who experience the daily threat of gang-related violence and racial tensions, identify with Zlata’s reality. When she comes to Long Beach to meet the Freedom Writers, she impresses the students with her maturity and, at the same time, with her surprising normalcy, as she proves to be an adolescent similar to them in many ways.

Zlata Filipović Quotes in The Freedom Writers Diary

The The Freedom Writers Diary quotes below are all either spoken by Zlata Filipović or refer to Zlata Filipović. 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:
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Broadway Books edition of The Freedom Writers Diary published in 2009.
Letter to Zlata Quotes

They say America is the “Land of the Free and Home of the

Brave,” but what’s so free about a land where people get killed? […] I am a fifteen-year-old teenage boy whose life seems to be similar to yours. In your diary you said you watched out for snipers and gunshots. I watch out for gangsters and gunshots. Your friends died of gunshots and my friend Richard, who was fifteen, and my cousin Matthew, who was nineteen, also died of gunshots. The strange thing is . . . my country is not in a war. (Or is it?)

Related Characters: Tommy Jefferson (speaker), Zlata Filipović
Page Number: 78
Explanation and Analysis:
Part IV: Diary 47 Quotes

I have always been taught to be proud of being Latina, proud of being Mexican, and I was. I was probably more proud of being a “label” than of being a human being, that’s the way most of us were taught. Since the day we enter this world we were a label, a number, a statistic, that’s just the way it is. Now if you ask me what race I am, like Zlata, I’ll simply say, “I’m a human being.”

Related Characters: The Freedom Writers (speaker), Zlata Filipović
Related Symbols: The Diary of Anne Frank
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Part IV: Diary 48 Quotes

When Zlata wrote about Bosnian children becoming the “soldiers” and the soldiers becoming “children,” at first I didn’t get her meaning. After hearing Tony’s story, I understood. In war the innocence of a child is lost, and though the soldiers fee I theirs is a worthy cause, they behave like children when trying to achieve their goals. Knowing that a grown man entered a child’s bedroom stealing his innocence makes me sad.

Related Characters: The Freedom Writers (speaker), Zlata Filipović, Tony
Related Symbols: The Diary of Anne Frank
Page Number: 95-96
Explanation and Analysis:
Entry 6: Ms. Gruwell Quotes

Zlata said writing was her salvation during the war and it kept her sane. She suggested that writing might be one of the best vehicles for some of my students to escape their horrific environments and personal demons. Even though they’re not held captive in an attic or dodging bombs in a basement, the violence permeating the streets is just as frightening—and just as real.

Related Characters: Erin Gruwell (speaker), Zlata Filipović
Related Symbols: The Diary of Anne Frank
Page Number: 139
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Freedom Writers Diary LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Freedom Writers Diary PDF

Zlata Filipović Character Timeline in The Freedom Writers Diary

The timeline below shows where the character Zlata Filipović appears in The Freedom Writers Diary. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Entry 3: Ms. Gruwell
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
...diaries of two adolescent girls of the same age as her students, Anne Frank and Zlata Filipović, because she believes her students will be able to relate to their stories of... (full context)
Part III: Diary 37
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Home Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
This student reflects that she has a lot in common with Anne Frank and Zlata Filipović. Like these two young girls, she feels trapped in a cage: her house, where... (full context)
Part III: Diary 38
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
As Ms. Gruwell’s class compares Zlata Filipović’s experience of war in Bosnia with Anne Frank’s life during the Holocaust, this student... (full context)
Part III: Diary 40
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
...just transferred into Ms. Gruwell’s class and doesn’t understand the conversations students are having about Zlata, nor their confidence that they can understand what it feels like to live through a... (full context)
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Ms. Gruwell gives the students an assignment to write a letter to Zlata inviting her to come to Long Beach. The student is shocked to note that when... (full context)
Letter to Zlata
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
Student Tommy Jefferson’s letter to Zlata begins by stating that, despite the United States’ pretension to freedom, this country is not... (full context)
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
...sometimes moved to take revenge, he knows that this would not solve anything. He tells Zlata that her story has moved him to tears—a rare feat—and that he would like to... (full context)
Entry 4: Ms. Gruwell
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
Cheered by her class’s enthusiasm, Ms. Gruwell ends up typing her students’ letters to Zlata and considers sending them to her. She agrees with her students, concluding that there is... (full context)
Part IV: Diary 44
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
This student expresses uncontained excitement after learning that Zlata is going to come to Long Beach. S/he compares Zlata’s life to her/his own experience... (full context)
Part IV: Diary 45
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
This student describes going with her family to meet Zlata and her best friend Mirna as an unforgettable day. When Zlata arrives at the fancy... (full context)
Part IV: Diary 46
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
This student finds her friendship with her best friend similar to that of Zlata and Mirna, except that her own family prevents her from seeing her best friend because... (full context)
Part IV: Diary 47
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
This student is surprised to realize that Zlata’s story, which seems so distant from her own, has impacted her so deeply. She is... (full context)
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
When the class goes to the Croatian Hall to hear Zlata speak about her experience in Bosnia, they realize that not everyone relates to their message... (full context)
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
This student feels inspired by Zlata’s response. While she herself has been taught to be proud of being Mexican and Latina,... (full context)
Part IV: Diary 48
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
...Tony cannot communicate in English, but he was certainly capable of communicating his pain. After Zlata’s speech, in which she said that in war soldiers became children and children soldiers, this... (full context)
Part IV: Diary 50
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Immediately after Zlata leaves, this student prepares to take some drugs. This habit makes her feel ashamed, as... (full context)
Education and Healing Theme Icon
She describes being high in Zlata and Ms. Gruwell’s presence but notes that neither of them noticed, since she knows how... (full context)
Zlata’s Letter
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Family and Home Theme Icon
Zlata writes Ms. Gruwell’s class a letter in which she thanks them for the warm memories... (full context)
Entry 5: Ms. Gruwell
Education and Healing Theme Icon
...of times per week. She is able to save up enough money to go visit Zlata and Miep in Europe. (full context)
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Education and Healing Theme Icon
When Erin goes to Ireland to visit Zlata and her family, they talk about Sarajevo and Zlata’s parents explain that racial tensions are... (full context)
Entry 6: Ms. Gruwell
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
Inspired by Zlata, Ms. Gruwell decides to compile a selection of her students’ diary entries into a book.... (full context)
Epilogue
Education and Healing Theme Icon
...might inspire the reader to join the chain of literary inspiration that links Anne Frank, Zlata Filipović, the Freedom Writers and, finally, the readers themselves. (full context)