This student is used to receiving letters from prison, since her father was in prison during most of her childhood. When she receives a letter from a prisoner in West Virginia who read the article about the Freedom Writers, however, she becomes emotional and is reminded of the way she was raised.
This student realizes that, while she thought she had developed emotional resistance to a certain event, the past can be powerful enough to still affect her in the present, reminding her of past pain and suffering.
Leonard, the prisoner, is only eighteen and is condemned for life for a crime he didn’t commit, leaving behind an eight-month old daughter who will grow up without him. Leonard ended up in prison because, like this student’s father, he was raised not to betray his friends, and accepted being punished in their place. This student plans to write a letter back telling Leonard he should do what is right and tell the truth, so that he can be present for his daughter.
This student uses her own experience to assert her vision of justice, arguing that one has a greater responsibility toward one’s children than toward any given social group. As such, agreeing to be condemned in someone else’s place is not an act of courage and solidarity, but a deep betrayal of one’s duties toward one’s own family.
When Leonard quotes a phrase from Anne Frank about being trapped in a cage—which was quoted in the Freedom Writers article—this student is amazed at the power of the media to reach people everywhere.
This student realizes that the Freedom Writers are successfully spreading Anne Frank’s message and impacting others in the same way that Anne’s diary has caused them to learn and grow.