December 22, 2017
Comparison of Bronx Masquerade and Freedom Writers
Many people, especially high school students, think that everyone is different. But in reality, everyone goes through difficult hardships. This makes everyone similar in a way. The novel, Bronx Masquerade, is about students growing and finding their true selves. The movie, Freedom Writers, is about a teacher trying to provide the best for her students while also maintaining good relationships. Both stories sound different, but they include similar characters, like the main students and teachers, similar conflicts, like stereotyping and acceptance, and lastly similar conflicts, like dealing with bullying and abuse. While both the novel and movie seem to be different at first glance, they both share similar characters, themes, and conflicts.
The novel, Bronx Masquerade, and the movie, Freedom writers, include similar characters. Many characters from both the novel and movie deal with similar situations. The way that they handle those situations, or their choices, make many characters comparable. Tyrone Bittings, the main student from Bronx Masquerade, shares a strong distaste for white people as Eva Benitez, the main student from Freedom Writers. Tyrone dislikes how black people do not have a chance to live a proper life in America, while white people have the privilege and advantage in America. After Tyrone thinks about his one conversation with Steve Ericson, a while student, Tyrone goes on a rant:
White folk! Who they think they kidding? They might as well go blow smoke up somebody else’s you-know-what, ’cause a Black man’s got no chance in this country. I be lucky if I make it to twenty-one with all these fools running round with AK-47s. Here I am one of the few kids I know whose daddy didn’t skip out on him, and he didn’t even make it to thirty. (8)
Tyrone knows how much of an advantage white people have in society, while black people have a disadvantage. He knows that white people are so privileged that they do not have to worry about their father leaving the family, or dying before they turn 30 years old. In comparison, Eva has an argument with Ms. Gruwell, the main teacher from Freedom Writers, in front of the class. Eva informs Ms. Gruwell about her intense hate for white people because she only dealt with bad experiences with white people. Eva points out that her friend was killed by white cops, and that her father was arrested by white cops with no clear reason. Tyrone and Eva both think that white people hold all this power and abuse it on others, due to personal experiences. As their stories go on, they get to see the different sides of white people, and accept them in the end. Next, Mr. Ward, the teacher from Bronx Masquerade, is comparable to Ms. Gruwell. Mr. Ward introducing Open Mike Fridays to his students helps them express themselves and find who they really are by presenting their poems. During the school’s assembly, Tyrone talks about what Open Mike Fridays meant to him to the audience: “Okay, I just wanted to say I’m really glad I got to do this poetry thing because I feel like, even though the people in our class are all different colours and some of you speak a different language and everything, I feel like we connected” (163). Mrs. Gruwell going out of her way to help her students by providing them with journals to write about anything. This helps her students become more comfortable with sharing their issues, which also lets them cope with those issues. For example, one student, Miguel, presented his story to the class during the first day of his sophomore year. His story brought all the students closer, as they could relate to Miguel’s story in a way.
The novel, Bronx Masquerade, share similar themes as the movie, Freedom Writers. Wesley Boone, a student from the novel, Bronx Masquerade, is stereotyped as a “bad boy”, who is not well educated because he is black. In reality, he has a passion for learning poetry from the Harlem Renaissance. Right in the beginning of the novel, Wesley says, “Anyway, I haven’t had to drag Tyrone off to school lately, or make excuses for not having my homework done, because I’ve been doing it. It’s the Harlem Renaissance stuff that’s got us both going” (4). Wesley has a reputation for not doing any schoolwork, and he knows that. That is until he started to learn about the Harlem Renaissance in class, and wrote a poem instead of an essay for his assignment. Wesley’s poem gave Mr. Ward the idea of making Open Mike Fridays, to which helped his classmates express themselves. Likewise, Marcus, a black student from Freedom Writers, is stereotyped as a gang member who does not care for school. That is until he develops a passion for learning. Ms. Gruwell’s contributions to her class, like the field trip and dinner with holocaust survivors, helps Marcus understand that there is something more to life than gangs and prison. Also, both stories include the theme of acceptance. Tyrone passionately hates white people, but soon accepts Steve, after Steve proves himself to be a worthy rapper. After Tyrone, Wesley, and Steve do their free-style poem during Open Mike Fridays, Tyrone says, “And guess what? That white boy can flow” (129). Similarly, there is tension between Sindy and Eva, even before Eva’s boyfriend killed Sindy’s boyfriend. For example, Eva moves away from Sindy when the whole class was told to rearrange their seating placement. As the movie progresses, Sindy forgives Eva, and gives Eva a gift for telling the truth during court, and they accept each other. Both Tyrone and Sindy and Eva develop and accept others.
The novel, Bronx Masquerade, share similar conflicts to the movie, Freedom Writers. Chankara Troupe, a student from Bronx Masquerade, share the conflict of an abusive environment as Brandy Ross, from Freedom Writers. Chankara tries to defend herself from her date, Johnny, who hits her for denying him. During school, Chankara says to herself, “My sister’s boyfriends have been beating on her for years. I made up my mind a long time ago, I’m not having none of that” (13). Chankara is fed up with all the abuse. She does not want to end up like her sister, who was beaten by her boyfriends. Likewise, Mrs. Gruwell reads Bandy’s diary. In Brandy’s diary, she explains about her family being abused my many men. Brandy states that she felt “useless and scared, and furious at the same time.” Brandy stating that she was furious indicates that she wants revenge, because she knows this abuse is not right at all. Next, Sterling S. Hughes, also known as “Preacher” from Bronx Masquerade, shares a bullying conflict like Jamal Hill, from Freedom Writers. Sterling is picked on by Leon, a bully, who “accidently” bumps into Sterling while pouring honey on his shoes. After the bullying incident, Leon laughingly says, “Oops! Looks like Mr. Goody Two-shoes got a mess to clean up” (88). Sterling is bullied because of his reputation for being a goody two shoes. But by being that way, he is not scared to confront Leon and teach him a lesson. Similarly, Jamal is hurt because he is passed a racist note which contained himself with big lips. Tito, the Latino student who drew the picture, laughs as Jamal puts on his hat in embarrassment. A religious person, or a person of another race, people get bullied no matter who they are.
While both the novel and movie seem to be different at first glance, they both share similar characters, themes, and conflicts. Similar characters, like the main students and teachers, similar conflicts, like stereotyping and acceptance, and lastly similar conflicts, like dealing with bullying and abuse. Looking back, both the novel and the movie are not as different as people think. In society, many are raised to think that we all are different, but in fact, we are all same in a way. Like in the end Bronx Masquerade, Tyrone says, “I feel like we’re not as different as I thought” (164).