Tears of a Tiger Quotes & Analysis

Instructor: Danielle Washington

Danielle is a certified English Language Arts educator with 8 years of classroom experience, and has an education specialist degree in curriculum and instruction.

Losing someone you love can be tough, especially if that someone happens to be a good friend. Such is the case for the main characters in Sharon Draper's novel Tears of a Tiger. In this lesson, you'll study quotes from the characters, and explore what each quote means.


Tears of a Tiger tells the story of Andy, a high school basketball player who makes one bad decision that changes his whole life. After a basketball game one night, Andy and his friends decide to celebrate their victory by having a few beers and taking a drive. Andy, who is the driver, crashes into a wall, killing his best friend Robbie. Andy can't overcome his grief and feelings of guilt after the accident. At the end of the novel, Andy takes his own life.

Unlike a traditional novel, Tears of a Tiger is written from the points of view of many different characters, not just Andy. For this reason, we will focus our study of specific quotes around the novel's themes, or big ideas.

Quotes about Death

Last week I learned that kids my age could die. That was the most frightening experience I ever had. A boy that I knew real well, that sat next to me in study hall, died in a car crash.

This quote comes from Rhonda, a girl in Robbie's class. Before his death, many of Robbie's classmates and friends lived carefree lives, typical of many high school students. His death forces them to think about the fact that young people can die.

With a five-dollar bill, Andy and the guys bought a six-pack of beer. They ended up buying five dollars worth of death. It seems like all a five spot can do is buy trouble, so I'd get rid of five-dollar bills.

This quote comes from Gerald, another good friend of Andy and Robbie. Gerald also played on the basketball team, and was supposed to go out with the guys that night. At the last minute, Gerald had to go home. In a school essay, Gerald is asked about something he would eliminate from the world if he could. As we see here, Gerald views the five-dollar bill used to purchase the six-pack of beer as a small thing that led to huge, and deadly, consequences.

Suppose it's more than just thinkin' about death in general. Suppose I told you I sometimes think about killin' myself.

This quote is from Andy, the novel's main character. After Robbie's death, Andy doesn't see the point in living anymore. He receives a consequence of a two-year suspended prison sentence and mandatory DUI classes for the accident, but for Andy this punishment doesn't seem big enough. He seeks a way to punish himself, and is open about wanting to commit suicide. Sadly, no one is able to stop him.

Quotes about Guilt and Blame

So why do I feel so guilty? I don't sleep so good at night. I keep seein' the fire and hearin' his screams and feelin' so helpless. He was too young to die like that. It's not fair. He never had a chance. Was all this done to teach us kids a lesson? Will it stop us from drinkin' and drivin'? Maybe--a few.

This quote comes from B.J., a friend of Andy and Robbie. B.J. was in the car the night of the accident. Although he did not drink any alcohol and was not driving, B.J. didn't try to stop the other boys from making such a bad choice. Now, he feels guilty for going along with the crowd just to fit in. He wonders if Robbie's death will really make a difference for other kids.

You can't blame yourself forever, Andy. And if you had died instead of Rob, would you want him to be hurting like you are now?

After Robbie's death, Andy doesn't feel comfortable opening up to many people. His basketball coach, Coach Ripley, is one of the few people he feels he can talk to. Andy expresses his feelings of guilt, and Coach Ripley tells him to put himself in Robbie's shoes. This doesn't seem to help Andy overcome his guilty feelings, though.

I'd say I'm not surprised. Sometimes it's part of the guilt and grieving process--to consider suicide as an alternative to the pain. But the answer is life, Andy, not death. So then I'd tell you about the other alternatives to help eliminate the pain.

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