Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson Summary and Analysis Fourth Marking Period, Communication 101"-"Prowling""

Summary

Melinda, empowered by saying no to Heather, takes on the challenge of talking to Rachel about Andy Evans. She finds Rachel in the library during study hall and they talk briefly, even sharing a few laughs. Melinda brings up the topic of Andy and Rachel moons over him. The librarian yells at them for being loud, so they start writing notes to each other in Melinda's notebook. Melinda tells Rachel that someone raped her the night of the party and that is why she called the police. Rachel is immediately sympathetic to Melinda, but changes gears when Melinda tells her it was Andy who did it. Rachel screams that she is a liar and storms out of the library.

After school, while waiting for the bus, Melinda is downtrodden by Rachel's refusal to believe her. However, her outlook perks up when Ivy finds her and tells Melinda she has something to show her. Ivy takes her to the girls' bathroom and shows Melinda how her comment about Andy Evans has turned into a whole wall of commentary. Heaps of girls share her sentiment and share their stories about being hurt or taken advantage of by Andy. Melinda's new sense of empowerment returns.

On Saturday morning, Melinda wakes up to noise from the arborists her dad has hired to cut off the sick branches of their tree. Melinda goes outside to watch the process and then goes for a long bike ride. She ends up back at the farm where the party was last summer. She sits under a tree and thinks about how she is a survivor and that she wants to nurture herself and embrace life once again.

That night, Melinda enjoys a nice dinner with her parents on the deck, and then falls asleep on the couch. She wakes in the middle of the night feeling restless, so she goes for another bike ride through the quiet streets of her neighborhood. On this ride she feels truly free and alive.

Analysis

Anderson expands the theme of silence versus speaking through Melinda's efforts at speaking up and their effects on her well-being in these sections. First, Melinda finally tells someone she was raped, a notable moment in her long journey from silence to finding her voice. While Rachel rejects Melinda's revelation as a lie, Melinda still benefits from the act of speaking up. One of the key benefits Melinda experiences is the comfort in knowing she tried to protect Rachel, rather than letting her own fears keep her from doing so.

Any qualms Melinda still has about telling Rachel what happened are diminished when she sees the wall of comments about Andy in the bathroom. At that moment, Melinda realizes that she is not alone and that by speaking up, she has created a space for other girls to share their troubles. Thus, Anderson argues that it is only through giving voice to traumatic or unjust experiences that healing and honest connections between people can occur. Melinda's sense of solidarity in this scene foreshadows that she may also eventually share a connection with Rachel again.

Finally, having shared the story of her rape, Melinda is able to find internal peace. On her bike ride, she returns to the scene of the rape. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, Melinda embraces the role of a survivor and sees herself as a "Melindagirl" seed, ready to grow and flower. Through this moment, along with Melinda's celebratory bike ride, Anderson revisits the metaphor of seeds and makes explicit the connection between Melinda's growth and the germination of a seed; the right elements have coalesced to help Melinda see that she can not only survive but thrive as well.

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At the end of the novel, what is the final touch that Melinda adds to the picture of her tree?




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