Warriors Don’t Cry


Melba Beals

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Themes and Colors
Racism and Living Under Jim Crow Theme Icon
Passive vs. Violent Resistance Theme Icon
The Cost of Non-Conformity Theme Icon
Relationships, Romance, and Empathy  Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Warriors Don’t Cry, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Racism and Living Under Jim Crow

In the decades after the American Civil War, Arkansas, like all Southern states, adhered to a legal system of segregation, known informally as “Jim Crow”—named after a popular caricature of a black slave in nineteenth-century minstrel shows. Jim Crow laws recognized people as either White or Colored and required separate services and accommodations for each group. By the time Melba, the author of Warriors Don’t Cry, is four years old, she becomes aware…

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Passive vs. Violent Resistance

From both Grandma India and the 101st Airborne Division soldier, Danny, Melba learns what it means to be a warrior. Warriors require both the mental strength to withstand abuse and the physical courage to resist violence when it poses a mortal threat. Grandma India and Danny demonstrate to Melba that, while one should never encourage violence, it is important to defend oneself. Grandma India defends the family by keeping watch over the house…

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The Cost of Non-Conformity

Melba’s decision to participate in the integration of Central High School is one that she makes based on her personal curiosity. She had always wondered what was inside of the school that she and other black people were forbidden to enter. However, her willingness to be part of the group to integrate Central High raises fears among her black community that white segregationists in Little Rock will attack her and the rest of the Little

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Relationships, Romance, and Empathy

For many teenage girls, part of turning “sweet sixteen” is the benefit of pursuing first romances. In Warriors Don’t Cry, Melba enjoys a relationship with her first crush, Vince, a classmate from her former high school. She also develops a romantic friendship with Link, a white student at Central High, whose desire to protect Melba both within Central High and outside of its walls suggests his affectionate feelings for her. Unfortunately, Melba…

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