As Beals' journey begins so do the warrior references, even before Melba herself is capable of realizing it. As Melba fights for her survival in only her first week of life, she is already being sung "On the Battlefield for My Lord" by her grandmother (Beals, 5). This foreshadows the impending war she will go on to fight as well as instilling her personal, family and religious values in the reader's mind. Beals, born on a day of war - the day Pearl Harbor was attacked, grows up in a world where she is taught to be strong, yet allow herself to be pushed down by whites. "As a toddler, growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1945, I felt safe only in my sepia-toned world, a cocoon of familiar people and places. I knew that there were white people living somewhere far away and we didn't do things together. My folks never explained why I should be frightened of those white people." (6) In this early quote from the memoirs, the foundations of Beals' warrior insight may be witnessed, as well as how she slowly came to be surprised at the violence that wo...
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...attle for her race, freedom, dignity and ultimately her life. By her willingness, her consistent toughness, and her goal to destroy racism the warrior inside of Beals can be seen as a landmark in the fight against race in the nineteen sixties.
The battle for integration which Beals fought impacted her and developed her character. She not only battles with her surroundings, but who she is and what she wants. Beals learns not to cry or show weakness, she learns she is a warrior, but she also learns that it requires sacrifice and the mantra "warriors don't cry" becomes a cry itself for the parts of her life she has surrendered. Beals says "I think only the warrior exists in me now. Melba went away to hide" (246). She seems both proud and sad for what she has accomplished, but ultimately her stance as a warrior not only changed her, but the nation's view of race.
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