During the movie titled Freedom Writers, the students in Ms. Gruwell’s class all experienced difficulties in their past. However, these struggles did not have an impact on their future, although that is what it seemed to be when the students were first presented. One of the major characters that showed that one’s future cannot be determined by one’s past was Gloria. She seemed to be very distant in English class, constantly reading magazines and not paying attention to Ms. Gruwell’s lessons, just like most of the other students. Her actions angered the, who sarcastically acknowledged her as someone who loves to read when she catches her staring at her magazine.
Gloria defines herself in her journal as a girl who seems to have an average life, but reveals that she has an abusive boyfriend that leaves bruises on her body. Gloria is probably afraid of breaking up with this violent guy, fearing the consequences of such actions. The girl also tells her class that her mother dropped out of high school when she was about her age because she was pregnant. When Ms. Gruwell welcomed her students in the beginning of sophomore year, she proposed a “Toast for Change”, where one by one, students would come up and vow that the person they would change into a better person. The low expectations people had of them were to no longer exist, as the students would now transform into successful individuals. When Ms. Gruwell steps aside to allow the kids to proceed with these directions, Gloria is the first one to participate. She admits that she had a boyfriend since she was eleven years old, and was expected to follow the path of her mother, and would get pregnant before sixteen and drop out of high school.
However, she publicly proclaims that it will not happen. Gloria Munez shows that her past does not determine her future. Just because nobody in her family ever graduated high school and grew to be successful does not mean that it is not possible for her to do so. With an enjoyable class where all the students get along with one another and with a loving and acceptable teacher like Ms. Gruwell, it becomes possible for Gloria to survive high school and avoid the dangers of her boyfriend. Unlike the common belief that Gloria’s past would determine her future, Munez actually viewed her past as more of a lesson instead of a prediction and learned what kind of a person not to be in the future. She used her mom as a counterexample of the best type of woman she needed to become, although getting an abusive boyfriend at age eleven foreshadowed a dangerous future for her. Evidently, Gloria lacked a sense of acceptance back at home and found it in her high school English class. Gloria Munez in Freedom Writers proved the contrary belief that her past would determine her future to be false.
- Freedom Writers. Directed by Richard LaGravenese, performances by Hilary Swank, Patrick Dempsey, and Imelda Staunton, Paramount Pictures, 2007.
- Gruwell, Erin. "The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them." Broadway Books, 1999.
- Freedom Writers (2007): Film Review." RogerEbert.com, www.rogerebert.com/reviews/freedom-writers-2007
- Gruwell, Erin. "Teaching Hope: Stories from the Freedom Writer Teachers and Erin Gruwell." Broadway Books, 2013.
- From Margin to Center: The Diary of Maria Reyes." In "The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them," edited by Erin Gruwell and Freedom Writers, Broadway Books, 1999, pp. 70-72.
- Gloria Munez: Toast for Change." In "The Freedom Writers Diary: How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them," edited by Erin Gruwell and Freedom Writers, Broadway Books, 1999, pp. 88-90.
- Kozol, Jonathan. "Savage Inequalities: Children in America's Schools." Broadway Books, 1991.
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