Warriors Don’t Cry


Melba Beals

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Warriors Don’t Cry Characters

Melba Pattillo Beals

A member of the Little Rock Nine, Melba is the sixteen-year-old main character and narrator of Warriors Don’t Cry. Her participation in the effort to integrate Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas… read analysis of Melba Pattillo Beals

Mother Lois

Melba’s mother Lois is a determined woman who protects Melba from violent segregationists. She was one of the first black students to integrate the University of Arkansas, from which she graduated in 1954. She teaches… read analysis of Mother Lois

Grandma India

Melba’s grandmother, Grandma India is a devout Christian woman with a strong sense of social justice and a belief that “God had pointed a finger at [her] family,” which has been “blessed with good health… read analysis of Grandma India


Melba’s younger brother. He has a bedroom “cluttered with pieces and parts of things” including “strange trucks, glass jars of crawly bugs, and a wooden train” that their father built for him. Conrad likes to… read analysis of Conrad
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An older girl who attends Dunbar Junior High School with Melba. Marissa is initially described as a bully who throws “overripe persimmons” at Melba. No one knows how old Marissa is but, due to… read analysis of Marissa

Elizabeth Eckford

Melba describes Eckford as “petite” and “a very quiet, private person” who was always friendly at their old school, smiling and waving at Melba from across the hallways. Like all of the other members of… read analysis of Elizabeth Eckford

Minnijean Brown

Melba’s closest friend in the Little Rock Nine, Minnijean lives one block away from Melba. They see each other nearly every day and share a lot in common, including a love for the singers… read analysis of Minnijean Brown

Daisy Bates

Melba describes Bates as “a petite and smartly dressed, steely-eyed woman” who serves as the Arkansas state president of the NAACP. Bates and her husband own the black newspaper, the Arkansas State Pressread analysis of Daisy Bates


A white student at Central High who befriends Melba. He informs her about ways in which the segregationists, some of whom are his friends, intend to commit violence against her. During their first meeting… read analysis of Link

Carlotta Walls

A member of the Little Rock Nine, Walls is also an athlete. She is slender and energetic, according to Melba. She is “a girl-next-door type” who is always in a good mood and… read analysis of Carlotta Walls

Ernest Green

The eldest member of the Little Rock Nine, Green is a senior in high school at the time that he helps to integrate Central High School. Green is a member of Melba’s church and… read analysis of Ernest Green

Terrence Roberts

Roberts was a junior in high school, like Melba, when he joined the Little Rock Nine. She describes him as tall and thin and “a friend since first grade.” Roberts was humorous and… read analysis of Terrence Roberts

Jefferson Thomas

Melba remembers Thomas, a member of the Little Rock Nine, as “quiet” and “soft-spoken.” He was an athlete and a top student in his class. She recalls that he had a “subtle” sense of… read analysis of Jefferson Thomas

Thelma Mothershed

Another friend of Melba’s and a member of the Little Rock Nine whom Melba saw frequently. She is petite like Elizabeth Eckford, and has a “very pale complexion” and “wise eyes” that “peered through… read analysis of Thelma Mothershed

Mr. Waylan

– A white grocer who mainly serves black customers. Melba describes Mr. Waylan as a “tall, skinny” man with an “Adam’s apple sticking out above his collar” and a “fish-belly blue-white skin and oversized fingernails.”… read analysis of Mr. Waylan

Melba’s Potential Rapist

On the day that the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Brown v. Board of Education case, Melba was in the seventh grade and walking home from school, daydreaming of her parents’ reconciliation… read analysis of Melba’s Potential Rapist

Uncle Clancey

Melba’s great-uncle who lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with his wife, Julie, a music teacher. Uncle Clancey is an Episcopalian priest. Melba goes north with her Mother Lois, Grandma India, and… read analysis of Uncle Clancey

Thurgood Marshall

An attorney for the NAACP and the chief attorney in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Marshall also served as the head of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. Shortly before Melba attends… read analysis of Thurgood Marshall


Melba’s crush. Vince is two years older than Melba and drives a Chevy. Melba describes him as “a caramel-colored John Darren.” Grandma India describes him as the “polite boy” from the wrestling matches. When… read analysis of Vince

Mrs. Clyde Thomason

The secretary of the League of Central High Mothers. She and her group filed a petition for an injunction to keep the Little Rock school board from integrating Central High School. Thurgood Marshallread analysis of Mrs. Clyde Thomason


– A soldier in the “Screaming Eagle” 101st Airborne Division. Melba describes him as a young man of slight build and “about five feet ten inches tall, with dark hair and deep-set brown eyes.” He… read analysis of Danny

Sammy Dean Parker

– A staunch young segregationist and an apparent leader among those opposed to the presence of the Little Rock Nine, motivated by a host of irrational fears that range from being overrun by black… read analysis of Sammy Dean Parker

Mrs. Elizabeth Huckaby

The girls’ vice-principal at Central High School. Melba remembers Mrs. Huckaby’s emphasis on “fair play” and how she protected Melba and other members of the Little Rock Nine from further abuse, such as having them… read analysis of Mrs. Elizabeth Huckaby

Nana Healey

Link’s former nanny whom his family fired after she became ill with what Link suspects is tuberculosis. Link tells Melba that Ms. Healy worked for his family all her life. When his father got married… read analysis of Nana Healey


Melba’s husband, whom she meets in college. The couple marry six months after meeting and have one daughter together named Kellie. John and Melba divorce after seven years together over his being a “farm boy”… read analysis of John

The McCabes

A white, Quaker family in Santa Rosa, California who take Melba in after a call is sent out by the NAACP seeking sympathetic families who would give members of the Little Rock Nine “safe harbor”… read analysis of The McCabes
Minor Characters
Gloria Ray
A member of the Little Rock Nine who attended Sunday school with Melba. Beals describes Ray as delicate and “as meticulous about her attire as she was about her studies.” She speaks in “softly measured words” but with intensity.
Auntie Mae
Melba’s aunt, whom Melba describes as a “real live wire.” Members of the family surmise that Melba inherited some of Mae’s feistiness. Mae is hopeful about Melba’s decision to help integrate Central High and thinks that she is just “sassy enough” to handle it successfully.
Judge Ronald Davies
The federal court judge who denies Governor Faubus’s request to halt the integration of Central High School.
Dwight D. Eisenhower
– Also known as “Ike,” Eisenhower was the 35th President of the United States. He demanded that Governor Faubus carry out the order of the Supreme Court to integrate Central High School without interference.
Gene Smith
The Assistant Chief of the Little Rock Police Department. Melba describes him as a “tall, raw-boned, dark-haired man.” He helps the Little Rock Nine exit school safely, escaping the angry mob.
The Driver
– A white man appointed by Gene Smith to drive Melba, Thelma Mothershed, Minnijean Brown, and Ernest Green away from Central High School. He warns them to roll up the windows, lock the doors, and keep their faces away from the windows to avoid assault while he drives them home.
Jess Matthews
– The principal of Central High School.
A soldier in the 101st Airborne Division who drove the Little Rock Nine home in a car that was a part of a military convoy.
School Superintendent Virgil Blossom
– The superintendent of the Little Rock public school system. Melba describes him as “tall, stocky,” and “grim-faced.” Despite the pleas of concerned parents and students alike, Blossom does nothing to protect the Little Rock Nine.
Mrs. Pickwick
Melba’s shorthand teacher. Mrs. Pickwick exhibits kindness and sympathy toward Melba and warns hostile students against saying anything inappropriate to her. Mrs. Pickwick is “a tiny, dark-haired woman,” and Melba describes her as someone who does not tolerate “hanky-panky.”
A violent segregationist student at Central who threatens to kill Melba and waves a switchblade knife in her face at one point. Link protects Melba from Andy by foiling his attempts to do her harm.