Warriors Don’t Cry

by

Melba Beals

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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 seventh-grade English while attending night school to get her Master’s degree. Due to her love of literature, Melba recalls that their shelves were stocked with books from authors that both Mother Lois and Grandma India loved, including Emily Dickinson, Langston Hughes, and James Weldon Johnson. She and Melba’s father, Howell, got divorced when Melba was seven. Mother Lois raises Melba and Melba’s brother, Conrad, with the help of Melba’s grandmother, Grandma India.

Mother Lois Quotes in Warriors Don’t Cry

The Warriors Don’t Cry quotes below are all either spoken by Mother Lois or refer to Mother Lois. 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 11 Quotes

When Mrs. Bates asked, “Do you kids want white meat or dark meat?” I spoke without thinking: “This is an integrated turkey.” The annoyed expression on her face matched the one on Mother’s, letting me know that maybe I should have prepared a speech. The reporters began snickering as they posed a series of questions on turkeys and integration, calling on me by name to answer. My palms began sweating, and my mouth turned dry. I hadn’t meant to put my foot in my mouth. I didn’t want the others to think I was trying to steal the spotlight, but once I had spoken out of turn, “integrated turkey” became the theme. “You’ll live to regret that statement, Melba,” Mother said as we were driving home. I knew she was agonizing over the consequences of my frivolity. She was right. I would suffer.

Related Characters: Melba Pattillo Beals (speaker), Mother Lois (speaker), Daisy Bates (speaker)
Page Number: 137-138
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:
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Warriors Don’t Cry PDF

Mother Lois Character Timeline in Warriors Don’t Cry

The timeline below shows where the character Mother Lois 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
...surrounded [Melba’s] birth,” India believes that “destiny had assigned [Melba] a special task.” Melba’s mother, Lois, was one of the first black people to integrate the University of Arkansas, graduating in... (full context)
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Melba is born on December 7, 1941 on Pearl Harbor Day. Lois’s doctor injures Melba’s scalp, which results in “a massive infection.” Lois takes Melba to a... (full context)
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...Melba comes down with a fever of 106 and starts convulsing. A black janitor finds Lois crying. She explains that Melba’s infection is getting worse. The janitor sympathizes and mentions that... (full context)
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...house at 1121 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,... (full context)
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Melba’s father, Howell, works on the Missouri Pacific Railroad “as a hostler’s helper.” Lois constantly encourages him to return to school and finish the final course that he needs... (full context)
Chapter 2 
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...“clerks, policemen, bus drivers, or insurance salesmen” open to black applicants. Melba reflects on how Mother Lois gave up on trying to convince Melba’s father, Howell, to return to university. They... (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... (full context)
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...announcer says that 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... (full context)
Chapter 3
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The other students include Ernest Green, the eldest, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas, Elizabeth Eckford, Thelma Mothershed, Melba’s “special friend” Minnijean Brown, Carlotta Walls, and Gloria Ray. They all come from strict... (full context)
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...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 Central and wonders if Melba... (full context)
Chapter 4 
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Mother Lois drives Melba to school. On their way, they see many of their neighbors standing... (full context)
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...center of the line of soldiers.” The onlookers are chanting angrily and yelling racial slurs. Mother Lois grabs Melba and yells above the uproar that they have to find the group.... (full context)
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Though Melba and Mother Lois try to get through the angry crowd without attracting attention, a white man grabs... (full context)
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...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. She piles chairs against the... (full context)
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Lois tells Melba not to discuss with anyone what happened outside of Central that morning. She... (full context)
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...another friend. Grandma India says that she will keep watch again overnight and turns down Mother Lois’s offer to do it instead. Grandma India, after all, is a better shot and... (full context)
Chapter 5
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...in which reporters ask Melba how she feels about going back to Central and ask Lois how a mother could put her child in such a situation, they have one-on-one interviews.... (full context)
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...welcome distraction. Melba decides to ask her mother and grandmother for permission to date him. Mother Lois instructs Melba to invite him to the house after the court hearing. Melba is... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...a slap, then spit dribbling down her face. A white woman a little older than Mother Lois blocks her path and screams “Nigger!” The woman hysterically says that the next thing... (full context)
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...even after the students are safely out of the school, the mob continues to rage. Mother Lois comes home and asks if Melba is all right. Grandma India asks about the... (full context)
Chapter 8
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...to state their business. They are from the Office of the United States. They urge Lois to allow Melba to go back to school, assuring her that Melba will be protected. (full context)
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...and photographers are also present, some of them hanging from trees or standing on cars. Mother Lois whispers “good-bye” and says a prayer along with one of the ministers. The students... (full context)
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...There is no heckling; some students even smile. Melba is excited about French class because Mother Lois speaks French fluently, so Melba understands the language. The students talk about suntanning and... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...to claim time for herself listening to records, reading magazines, and writing in her diary. Mother Lois, on the other hand, is so consumed by news of integration that she reads... (full context)
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Mother Lois announces that Vince called to ask if Melba could go with him to church... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...students’ or parents’ concerns but tells the students not to respond to their attackers. When Mother Lois asks if he has “any specific plans” to protect the children, Blossom rudely tells... (full context)
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...approach her afterward to congratulate her and to ask where she got her “Northern accent.” Mother Lois is pleased to hear this and tells Melba to tell the students that her... (full context)
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...and, speaking without thinking, Melba says that it is “an integrated turkey.” Mrs. Bates and Mother Lois get an annoyed expression on their faces and the reporters snicker. While driving home,... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...for the segregationists to try to push them all out. One early evening, Melba and Mother Lois prepare to attend a Christmas party held by the National Organization of Delta Sigma... (full context)
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...Howell, whom she calls “Papa Will,” also comes over for the holiday. When he and Mother Lois look at each other fondly, it gives Melba hope that they may get back... (full context)
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...Melba is thinking 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... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Mother Lois suggests that Melba extend Vince a standing invitation to come to Sunday supper. He... (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 is just as upset to hear that Melba has trusted Link... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Grandma India and Mother Lois still wonder about Link’s motives. Melba’s grandmother suggests that he could be trying to... (full context)
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...for the holiday, though Grandma India resists Melba’s urge to wear stockings. Grandma India and Mother Lois also encourage her to give up more for Lent, but Melba thinks that she... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...her help. He 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... (full context)
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...least once a day” and say every negative thing they can about her body. Meanwhile, Mother Lois grows tenser and, on a Monday evening, gathers the family in the living room... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...the Pattillo family of food and a home. During the last few days of April, Mother Lois goes to North Little Rock to plead for her job, only to be met... (full context)
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Over the next few days, Melba is anxious for the news story about Mother Lois’s job loss to be printed. Finally, the story makes it to a newspaper and... (full context)
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One day, Bishop O.J. Sherman, a powerful black clergyman, tells Mother Lois to go back to the administrator and say that the bishop would like her... (full context)
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Mother Lois announces that none of the black students will be allowed to attend Ernest’s graduation... (full context)
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...for Melba’s roommate but soon returns to visit Melba. Six months later, the two marry. Mother Lois is skeptical of the marriage. The couple has one daughter, Kellie, but splits up... (full context)