SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 37-page guide for “Freedom Writers” by Erin Gruwell and Freedom Writers includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 4 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Racial Identity and Tolerance and The Importance of Family.
The Freedom Writers Diary is a nonfiction book that collects the stories of English teacher Erin Gruwell and her students at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California, as they move from their freshman to senior years from 1994-1998. The book is divided into eight major sections, one for the fall and spring of each year, as well as a forward and epilogue. Each major section begins with an introductory entry from Ms. Gruwell, followed by anonymous, numbered diary entries from her students.
At the beginning of the book, Ms. Gruwell is just about to start her first official year as an English teacher. As a student teacher the previous year, Ms. Gruwell found a racial caricature one of her students had drawn of Sharaud, her most difficult student. When she compared this drawing to the propaganda the Nazis used during the Holocaust, she realized her students didn’t know what the Holocaust was and decided to focus the remainder of the year on tolerance. Her efforts attracted positive attention from the media, but she also received death threats and endured disparaging racial comments from neighbors. Her school department head, leery of her unconventional teaching methods and worried about negative publicity, assigned Ms. Gruwell to teach “at risk” freshman for the rest of that year, rather than continuing teaching the class Sharaud was in.
The students in Ms. Gruwell’s freshman class are almost all African American, Latino, or Asian, and at first, they are suspicious of their white, suit-wearing teacher. They bet she will quit within the first week or month, but she quickly wins them over with unique teaching methods and reading material the students find relatable. The fall of their freshman year, they read Durango Street, a book about an African American teenager living in the projects after being released from a juvenile work camp for stealing cars, and then they make a movie about it. In the spring, when they read Romeo and Juliet and, Ms. Gruwell compares the Capulets to a local Latino gang and the Montagues to a rival Asian gang and gains the respect of more students. Still, the students deal with many difficulties that distract them from school, including race-based gang violence, domestic violence, illness, drug and alcohol addiction, and homelessness.
During the students’ sophomore year, Ms. Gruwell organizes a “toast for change” and a “Read-a-thon for Tolerance.” Among the books that the students read are Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, and Zlata’s Diary: A Child’s Life in Sarajevo. After reading these books, the students have the idea to invite Zlata, a teenager their age who wrote her diary from 1992 to 1993, during the Bosnian War, to visit their classroom. They write her letters, and she agrees to come for a visit. This same year, the students are also visited by a Holocaust survivor and Miep Gies, the woman responsible for hiding Anne Frank’s family and later, retrieving the dead girl’s diary.
For the students’ junior year, Ms. Gruwell asks them to turn their diary entries into a book. The students decide to call themselves Freedom Writers after learning about the Civil Rights-era Freedom Riders, who took bus trips through the south in the 1960s to protest segregation. Once the book is completed, they raise money for a trip to Washington, D.C. to present the book to U.S. Secretary of Education Richard Riley.
Their senior year, as the students begin to think about their future, they are the subject of a Los Angeles Times feature that draws increased media and public attention to their project. Over winter break, Ms. Gruwell learns that they have won The Spirit of Anne Frank Award and must accept it in person in New York. The company GUESS? sponsors travel for 45 students to New York to accept the award, and, shortly thereafter, the students learn that Doubleday wants to formally publish their book of diary entries. As the year concludes, the students learn of where they have been accepted to college, and they plan a Freedom Writer reunion trip to Europe the next summer.
Summary, Reaction, and Analysis Paper #1: The Freedom Writers Diary The Freedom Writers Diary is based on a true story that takes place at Wilson High School in Long Beach, California. Wilson High School was always known for being an upper class white school but that soon changed. Students began to be bussed in which created a more diverse school. Erin Gruwell experienced this first hand when she was offered her first teaching job at Wilson in 1994. Ms. Gruwell was not given just any teaching job, she had been asked to work with the at-risk students. Every other teacher and the administrative board looked down on these students. Ms. Gruwell knew she had to be the one to view them differently and give them a chance from the beginning. This proves to be difficult within the first weeks of school. The students quickly show Ms. Gruwell they are not interested in school or what she had to say. About a month into school was when the students really started to change as individuals. This happened after Ms. Gruwell caught a note going around the room that had a drawing of one of the students named Sharaud. The picture had an African American male with huge lips. Ms. Gruwell used this negative situation as a learning opportunity. She compared the drawing to Jews during the Holocaust. She gained the students’ attention immediately and knew this would be her new way of teaching. Her new goal was to create learning through books, guest speakers, and field trips. Ms. Gruwell knew she had made progress, but there was a long journey ahead still. After struggling with the school about getting new books she decided to go find her own. Ms. Gruwell introduced several books that students would be able to relate to. Some of the books were: Twelve Angry Men , Night by Elie Wiesel, The Wave by Todd Strasser, Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl , and Zlata’s Diary . Many of the students did not believe they would be able to relate to the books, but then quickly learned other wise. Mrs. Gruwell had each student