This student has heard other students make mean comments about her bad eyesight. One day, she decides that she cannot accept such comments anymore and answers back when a girl makes fun of her. As the two girls fight, the student slaps her, furious, and has to be separated from the other girl. When she tells Ms. Gruwell about the incident, Ms. Gruwell tells her that finding a racist caricature of one of her students ultimately made her become a better teacher. This student hopes that this episode, too, can make her a better person.
This student’s reaction to a girl’s mean comments reflects both a positive desire to defend herself and show self-respect, and a negative embrace of violence as a means of doing so. Ms. Gruwell, however, does not condemn the student for what she did, instead telling her that one can learn from difficult episodes, transforming them into opportunities for growth and change.