The Freedom Writers Diary

The Freedom Writers Diary

by

Erin Gruwell

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Themes and Colors
Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance Theme Icon
Education and Healing Theme Icon
Family and Home Theme Icon
Violence, War, and Death  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Freedom Writers Diary, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Race, Ethnicity, and Tolerance

The students at Wilson High School are used to navigating racial and ethnic divisions. The rivalry between black, Asian, and Latino gangs affect their everyday lives, constantly making them potential victims in a war where only external appearances and group loyalty matter. As a consequence, at school and in their neighborhood, students learn to remain within the confines of their own identity group. However, when Ms. Gruwell begins to teach her class about the historical…

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Education and Healing

While Wilson High School assigns Ms. Gruwell a group of students that have already been labeled “unteachable” by the rest of the school staff, the new teacher soon discovers that her students are far from a hopeless cause. Instead, these adolescents are merely the reflection of the low expectations that adults have imposed on them all their life. To make her students feel more engaged in academic life, Ms. Gruwell adopts a teaching method in…

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Family and Home

The family life of Ms. Gruwell’s students impacts them well beyond the boundaries of their home. While some students benefit from strong parent support and feel encouraged to pursue their education, many others struggle with difficult family situations which affect their performance at school. Missing or uncaring parents, domestic abuse, and homelessness all leave a toll on students’ well-being, affecting their sense of self-confidence and their motivation to succeed academically. While Ms. Gruwell cannot…

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Violence, War, and Death

Violence and death are so present in many of Ms. Gruwell’s students’ lives that, when they read about Anne Frank and Zlata Filipović’s experiences in war-torn countries, many of them feel that they, too, are suffering from an undeclared war—one made of domestic abuse and gang violence, where death can strike at any moment. Through Ms. Gruwell’s teaching, though, students become empowered about their capacity to break the cycle of violence. Inspired by…

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