Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson Summary and Analysis Fourth Marking Period, Exterminators"-"Genetics""

Summary

Once again Merryweather High School's mascot is up for debate. The PTA takes offense at the "Horny Hornet" cheer the cheerleaders use, and the student council defends the student body's right to be "hornets."

Signs of spring begin to emerge. The snow finally turns to slush and seniors are receiving rejection and admission notices from colleges in the mail. Andy joins the International Club and hangs out with Rachel and her exchange student friend Melinda refers to as Greta/Ingrid. Easter comes and goes without much fanfare, though Melinda remembers going to church with her grandparents when they were alive and kind of misses the tradition.

On the last day of spring break, Melinda wanders the mall and finds Ivy, sketching, by a line of kids getting their faces painted. The girls chat about their art projects and Ivy encourages Melinda, telling her she has talent. They work on a sketch of a tree together.

In biology, Ms. Keen reviews genetics, causing Melinda to think about which of her traits comes from her mom and which from her dad. When she was a young child she liked to imagine she was an adopted princess and that any day her real family would show up and whisk her away to a glamorous life. One day a limo showed up to take her dad to the airport and she thought her fantasy had come true. But instead of being happy, she was terrified at the possibility of leaving her family. Now she wishes someone really would come and rescue her from her life.

Analysis

In these sections, spring is a metaphor for the changes happening inside Melinda and foreshadows future problems with Andy Evans. Throughout the novel, the weather serves as a backdrop for Melinda's emotions. All winter she was as cold and as silent as snow, hibernating within the fortress of herself. With spring's arrival, however, Melinda, like the earth around her, is beginning to thaw and getting ready to help seeds germinate. For instance, when Melinda and Ivy hang out at the mall, Melinda is tempted to bite her lip and remain silent, but instead she sucks on a hard candy and she and Ivy end up drawing a tree together. In this scene, Melinda not only reconnects with an old friend, but also gains confidence in her ability to complete her tree project.

Additionally, Anderson foreshadows that Andy Evans will continue to be a problem in Melinda's life. In addition to harassing Melinda, he is now hanging out with her former best friend, Rachel. Melinda sees this development and is concerned. As Andy pursues Rachel, pay attention to how it affects Melinda and her ability to continue to open up and start to heal from the trauma of her rape.

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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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