Warriors Don’t Cry

by

Melba Beals

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Grandma India Character Analysis

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 and good brains.” Grandma India believes that God spared Melba’s life during her infancy so that she could serve the purpose of helping to end segregation. Grandma India is a constant source of encouragement and strength for Melba, who is frequently distraught and isolated by her experiences at Central. She encourages Melba to think of herself as a warrior on the Lord’s battlefield. In October 1958, Grandma India dies of leukemia.

Grandma India Quotes in Warriors Don’t Cry

The Warriors Don’t Cry quotes below are all either spoken by Grandma India or refer to Grandma India. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Simon Pulse edition of Warriors Don’t Cry published in 2007.
Chapter 1 Quotes

My grandmother India always said God had pointed a finger at our family, asking for just a bit more discipline, more praying, and more hard work because he had blessed us with good health and good brains. My mother was one of the first few blacks to integrate the University of Arkansas, graduating in 1954. Three years later, when Grandma discovered I would be one of the first blacks to attend Central High School, she said the nightmare that had surrounded my birth was proof positive that destiny had assigned me a special task.

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Mother Lois, Grandma India
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2  Quotes

For me, Cincinnati was the promised land. After a few days there, I lost that Little Rock feeling of being choked and kept in “my place” by white people. I felt free, as though I could soar above the clouds. I was both frightened and excited when the white neighbors who lived across the street invited me for dinner. It was the first time white people had ever wanted to eat with me or talk to me about ordinary things. Over the dinner table, I found out they were people just like me. They used the same blue linen dinner napkins that Grandma India favored. They treated me like an equal, like I belonged with them.

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Grandma India
Page Number: 21
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4  Quotes

I ran to my room and fell onto the bed, burying my face in the pillow to hide the sobs that wrenched my insides. All my disappointment over not getting into Central High and the mob chase as well as the big sudden changes in my life over the past few weeks came crashing in on me. Then I heard Grandma India padding across the room and felt the weight of her body shift the plane of the mattress as she sat down. “You had a good cry, girl?” Her voice was sympathetic but one sliver away from being angry [….] “You’ll make this your last cry. You’re a warrior on the battlefield of the Lord. God’s warriors don’t cry, ‘cause they trust that he’s always by their side. The women of this family don’t break down in the face of trouble. We act with courage, and with God’s help, we ship trouble right on out.”

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Grandma India (speaker)
Related Symbols: Warriors
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

“Melba likes suffering and doing without; that’s why she goes to Central. But why do I have to?” “Where did you get a notion like that about your sister?” “Clark said that’s what his folks say because Sis stays in that white school, being mistreated every day.” “Her staying there means she has made a promise that she intends to keep, because she told God she would and she doesn’t want to let herself and God down,” Mother Lois said, walking over to look Conrad in the eye. “So you must explain that to Clark the next time he inquires about your sister’s motives.”

Related Characters: Grandma India (speaker), Conrad (speaker)
Page Number: 133
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

Sweet sixteen? How could I be turning sweet sixteen in just a few days and be a student at Central High, I thought as I entered the side door of the school […]. I had relished so many dreams of how sweet my sixteenth year would be, and now it had arrived, but I was here in this place. Sixteen had always seemed the magic age that signaled the beginning of freedom, when Mama and Grandma might let loose their hold and let me go out with my friends on pre-dates. But with integration, I was nowhere near being free.

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Mother Lois, Grandma India
Page Number: 141
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

I pretended to become intensely involved in my book. I was reading about Mr. Gandhi’s prison experience and how he quieted his fears and directed his thoughts so that his enemies were never really in charge of him. All at once I was aware that one of my hecklers was coming toward me. “Niggers are stupid, they gotta study real hard, don’t they?” he said in a loud voice. “Thanks for the compliment,” I said, looking at him with the pleasantest expression I could muster so he would believe I wasn’t annoyed. “Study hard now, nigger bitch, but you gotta leave this place sometime, and then we got you.” “Thank you,” I said again, a mask of fake cheer on my face. He seemed astonished as he slowly started to back away. I felt myself smiling inside. As Grandma India said, turning the other cheek could be difficult […] it was also beginning to be a lot of fun.

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Grandma India
Related Symbols: Warriors
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 18 Quotes

Early on Wednesday morning, I built a fire in the metal trash barrel in the backyard, fueled by my school papers. Grandma said it would be healing to write and destroy all the names of people I disliked at Central High: teachers, students, anyone who I thought had wronged me […]. Grandma India stood silent by my side as I fed the flame and spoke their names and forgave them […]. Finally she said, “Later, you’ll be grateful for the courage it built inside you and for the blessing it will bring.” Grateful, I thought. Never. How could I be grateful for being at Central High? But I knew she was always right.

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Grandma India (speaker)
Related Symbols: Ethiopia, Warriors
Page Number: 213-214
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Warriors Don’t Cry LitChart as a printable PDF.
Warriors Don’t Cry PDF

Grandma India Character Timeline in Warriors Don’t Cry

The timeline below shows where the character Grandma India appears in Warriors Don’t Cry. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
Melba Pattillo Beals’s grandmother, India, believes that the Pattillo family is special. Due to their “good health and good brains,”... (full context)
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
...Cross Street.” During her early childhood, she lives there with her mother, Lois, her grandmother, India, her father, Howell, and her younger brother, Conrad. In the front hallway, there are tall... (full context)
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Relationships, Romance, and Empathy  Theme Icon
Grandma India spends a lot of her time in the kitchen, “scrubbing it sparkling clean or... (full context)
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...for one and a half times the price fresh food was sold to white folks.” Grandma India calls all of her friends and tries to convince them to go to another... (full context)
Chapter 2 
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...first and wonders about what happened to her face and why her clothes are torn. Grandma India opens the back door and Marissa explains what happened, using the word “rape,” which... (full context)
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Grandma India tells Melba not to tell anyone about nearly being raped, especially not Conrad. She... (full context)
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Melba prepares to go to Cincinnati, Ohio with Mother Lois, Grandma India, and Conrad to visit her Uncle Clancey. Melba regards Cincinnati as “the promised land”... (full context)
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...seventeen black children will enroll at Central in the fall of 1957. Mother Lois and Grandma India are shocked and outraged that Melba would make such a decision without telling them.... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...the Beals family get a series of calls, one of which is a bomb threat. Grandma India decides to keep watch overnight with her shotgun, which she nicknames “Mr. Higgenbottom.” Melba... (full context)
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...the morning before Melba’s first day at school, the family sits down for breakfast and Grandma India leads a prayer. Mother Lois reminds Melba that she does not have to integrate... (full context)
Chapter 4 
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Passive vs. Violent Resistance Theme Icon
The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...people whom she knows do not live in her neighborhood, particularly tattooed, tobacco-chewing white men. Grandma India meets her and Lois at the door of the house and hurries them inside.... (full context)
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...She also forbids Melba to leave the house. When the phone begins to ring incessantly, Grandma India forbids Melba to answer it. Melba says that she would like to resume classes... (full context)
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...a wonderful idea to Melba, given all the good times that they had there. However, Grandma India does not allow Melba to go. For Melba, this is the last straw. She... (full context)
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The phone rings again. Grandma India answers and tells Melba that she thinks it is Vince on the other end.... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...following news about integration. Aside from that, she tries to maintain some normalcy by helping Grandma India with chores and by practicing her application of make-up. One late afternoon, Grandma India... (full context)
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Relationships, Romance, and Empathy  Theme Icon
...soft-drink stand and would see Vince there and invite him back to sit with her, Grandma India, and Grandma India’s friend, Mr. Claxton, thereby enjoying what would otherwise be a forbidden... (full context)
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
Passive vs. Violent Resistance Theme Icon
...Nine as well as of her mother and grandmother for their support. She wishes that Grandma India could tell the reporters how she stands guard at night. Melba is fascinated by... (full context)
Chapter 7
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The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...her and call her names. She begins to cry. Crippled by fear, she thinks of Grandma India saying the following, “God never loses one of his flock.” Suddenly, she sees her... (full context)
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Grandma India rushes out of the front door to greet Melba. The alarmed neighbors stand outside... (full context)
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Passive vs. Violent Resistance Theme Icon
The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...mob continues to rage. Mother Lois comes home and asks if Melba is all right. Grandma India asks about the cuts on her knee, but Melba decides to tell them later... (full context)
Chapter 8
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
...which he declares that Little Rock has been occupied. Later that night, the doorbell rings. Grandma India announces that it is “white men wearing black hats.” She grabs her shotgun and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...says that they should only talk about good things—nothing related to Central. Mother Lois and Grandma India agree. (full context)
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Relationships, Romance, and Empathy  Theme Icon
...church mentions her name, he looks proud to be with her. Dinner goes well until Grandma India mentions that the Mothers’ League is asking that the 101st be cut or removed... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...students who attend chapel services. The chapel is “a fairly safe corner of the school.” Grandma India eases her fears that the students will throw things, for, at the very least,... (full context)
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...they do not need or use, as well as two things very dear to them. Grandma India asks Conrad to give up his train, which he insists on keeping, and uses... (full context)
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The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
...the service, she felt that the students shared a love of the Lord in common. Grandma India insists that, someday, the white students will have the courage to be nice outside... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...if her mother and grandmother can make an exception tonight and allow her to go. Grandma India refuses, due to the white men who are parked at the end of their... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...a lot less about Central. Vince invites her to a party, but Mother Lois and Grandma India still refuse to allow her out of the house. Melba makes a list of... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Soon, Melba becomes depressed. When she starts to wish for death, Grandma India says that this would be just what the segregationists want. She gets Melba to... (full context)
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...and comes by, even on days when she does not want him to. Each day, Grandma India and Melba pray for Minnijean’s strength. On Thursday, February 6, Minnijean is attacked again... (full context)
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Passive vs. Violent Resistance Theme Icon
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...throws raw eggs on Melba. She returns home to clean up. Melba is embarrassed and Grandma India suggests introducing mind games—that is, smiling and being polite when she is abused to... (full context)
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...of his car to rescue them and he also gets hit. When Melba arrives home, Grandma India presents her with a Valentine’s Day card from Vince whom Melba thinks less about... (full context)
Chapter 15
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When Melba arrives home, Grandma India is concerned about her having a white boy’s car. Mother Lois comes home and... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Melba goes home and excitedly tells Grandma India how she tried “some of the things Gandhi talks about,” such as keeping calm... (full context)
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Grandma India and Mother Lois still wonder about Link’s motives. Melba’s grandmother suggests that he could... (full context)
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Easter arrives. Melba is excited to dress up for the holiday, though Grandma India resists Melba’s urge to wear stockings. Grandma India and Mother Lois also encourage her... (full context)
Chapter 17
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
Relationships, Romance, and Empathy  Theme Icon
...tells her to meet him “just inside North Little Rock.” Melba tells Mother Lois and Grandma India that there is “a big emergency” with Thelma, permitting her to drive to meet... (full context)
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...and reports that she does not have much longer to live. Melba decides to tell Grandma India about Nana Healey. At first, Grandma India is angry with Melba for having lied,... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Passive vs. Violent Resistance Theme Icon
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...insist on not letting Ernest Green graduate and Melba begins to worry for his safety. Grandma India decides to distract her with hard work, including washing the dishes and studying for... (full context)
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...in the metal trash barrel in her yard and burns her school papers. She follows Grandma India’s advice and writes and destroys the names of people at Central whom she dislikes.... (full context)
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In the autumn, Grandma India gets leukemia and dies shortly after her diagnosis. Two of the seven remaining black... (full context)
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...experience at Little Rock as a formative one that gave her “courage and patience,” as Grandma India said it would. The experience also taught her that people are all interconnected. (full context)