The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Diary

by

Erin Gruwell

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Freedom Writers Diary can help.

The Freedom Writers Diary: Part I: Diary 5 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
This student describes the passing of the days as a nightmare, a series of violent events that end up forming part of ordinary reality. Every day, this student’s mom prays s/he will come home safely. On the way back from school, however, s/he is chased by older people, simply because s/he is of a different race. As a result, s/he decides to get a gun, which is easy and relatively cheap to do.
Race-related violence turns all individuals into potential victims and aggressors, as people are judged not on their actions but, rather, on their appearance. This student’s fear and frustration at being involved in the conflict leads her/him not to hide but, rather, to face the conflict head-on.
Themes
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Family and Home Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
S/he bring a gun to school and, on the way home, when s/he sees the usual aggressors waiting at the bus stop, s/he nervously takes hold of the gun, gets off the bus and starts walking away. Soon, s/he is followed by one of the men. When s/he points the gun at the man’s head, he runs away. S/he hopes that this means the men won’t cause further trouble. However, even though the men disappear for a few days, one day s/he sees someone following her/him from the other side of the street. The two of them suddenly pull out their guns and start shooting at each other. S/he describes the scene as being like a movie scene, except with real blood. After the enemy runs out of bullets, the two of them run away.
While this student clearly does not want to be involved in violent conflict, but merely to be protected and walk home safely, the situation forces her/him to turn into a violent person, willing to harm somebody else for self-protection. The comparison of this scene to a movie emphasizes the surreal nature of a world in which life-or-death violence can erupt suddenly on the street on the way home from school. The scene is both real and unbelievable, absurd in the amount of violence and potential harm it contains.
Themes
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
Now, s/he is no longer afraid, as s/he is no longer afraid to use a gun and forms a gang of her/his very own. While being part of a gang brings serious problems, so does being of another race. Therefore, the student concludes, it is better to protect oneself and, in the middle of such widespread violence, to avoid being the next one to die.
The student’s embrace of violence is not based on excitement or a fight for territory, but, rather, on pragmatic considerations of self-defense and survival. The ubiquity of firearms in her/his environment makes her/his choice seem logical.
Themes
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
Related Quotes