Student Tommy Jefferson’s letter to Zlata begins by stating that, despite the United States’ pretension to freedom, this country is not free at all. He compares his life to Zlata’s, explaining that he too is forced to avoid gunshots on a daily basis, and has seen friends and family of his age die from such violence. He concludes that his country almost seems to be in a war.
This student’s letter reflects his disillusionment with his own country, which has failed both to protect him from violence and death, and to allow him to enjoy a carefree childhood. He denounces a hypocritical gap between what the United States proclaims as its ideals and the actions it takes (or fails to take) to defend its most vulnerable citizens.
Tommy describes the pain he feels at having seen two close friends die senseless deaths and the fact that these deaths go unnoticed, as the media never reports such events. While he is 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 invite her to the United States to share his own experience of war and lack of freedom.
Tommy notices the injustice that such horrific events as young people’s violent deaths are not reported in the media. Nevertheless, despite his sense of isolation and sadness, he has not given in to violence himself, nor lost hope in finding courage and inspiration in life, as his reaction to Zlata’s story demonstrates.