This student has grown up without his father, whom he believes left his mother because he didn’t have the money to take care of their baby. Based on information from his father’s friends, this student believes that his father is probably a bad person, focused on alcohol and drugs, and unable to motivate himself to work. When Ms. Gruwell gives the Freedom Writers an assignment to interview other students about their family heritage and culture, this student realizes that he knows nothing about his family roots. He interviews other Latino students to try to find out about his own past.
Ms. Gruwell’s assignment shows that, while the Freedom Writers trust in equality for all, they are also able to recognize the distinct cultural traits that make up everybody’s life. Learning about other people’s cultures allows the students to be more aware of the diverse world around them, and treat other cultures with respect. This student’s longing to discover his own cultural background reveals his desire to feel a stronger sense of personal identity.
Finally, he asks his mother if they can go find his father, and his mother ends up agreeing. He is simultaneously excited and nervous about meeting his father, which he has wanted to do since he was a child. When they finally find his house, where he is living with his own mother, the student’s grandmother tells them him his father is sick and cannot see him. Despite the student’s efforts, she remains persistent in keeping them from seeing him. On his way back home, he feels deeply disappointed and realizes that his father is a coward who can’t even face his own son. The student concludes that he will never be like him.
The student’s desire to meet his father suggests that it is important for him to feel a sense of belonging and know his own past. The father and grandmother’s refusal to grant him this opportunity inspires him to transform this disappointment into a future commitment. This demonstrates a quality that Ms. Gruwell has emphasized throughout her teaching: the ability to transform adversity into an opportunity for growth.