Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson Summary and Analysis Second Marking Period, Dead Frogs"-"Naming the Monster""

Summary

Frog dissection begins in biology. Melinda is in charge of making the first slice down the frog's abdomen and as she does so, she has a flashback to the night of her attack, causing her to faint.

Heather's latest attempt to gain popularity is to become a model. She begs Melinda to come with her to the first photo shoot. The location is chilly and Melinda shivers in her jacket and sweater and thinks Heather looks pitiful and skinny modeling a bikini.

In algebra class, Mr. Stetman continues to try to get his students interested in algebra by coming up with practical applications. He suggests using algebra to calculate how many guppies to breed for a guppy business. In English class, Hairwoman assigns essays regularly, trying to get her students attention by assigning topics such as lowering the driving age.

One afternoon, Melinda hangs up the canned food drive posters she has drawn. She finds the activity pleasant and hopes that maybe it will help restore her reputation. However, IT walks by and whispers in her ear, causing her to panic and run away, abandoning her posters.

Analysis

Melinda is still traumatized, as evidenced by the symbol of the dead frog and her interaction with IT. The contrast between Melinda and Heather's characterizations also provide more insight into Melinda's mind. First, the dead frog Melinda has to dissect symbolizes her sense of self and the trauma she suffered. As she slices into the dead frog, she connects it to the attack she endured at the party, feeling once again "the cut" and smelling "the dirt, leaves in my hair." By fainting, Melinda is able to once again avoid thinking about the event fully and continues to wish she could make it disappear entirely from her brain.

Furthermore, while Melinda is able to frequently avoid thinking about what happened to her, any interaction with IT brings it right back. When IT whispers "freshmeat" into her ear, she immediately freaks out. Thus, while his attack on her is in the past, she continually feels at risk whenever he approaches, causing her to spiral deeper into depression and despair. For now, Melinda's only ways of coping are avoidance and silence, neither of which helps her overcome the pain she feels.

Finally, you learn more about Melinda through her observation of Heather's modeling stint. While Heather takes pleasure in revealing her body and being called sexy by the photographer, Melinda finds the whole production fake and demeaning. Heather's desire to be even skinnier and her willingness to pose and preen for the camera exasperate Melinda. Her distaste for the photo shoot is apparent, but she is also a little envious of Heather's confidence. For instance, on the ride to the photo shoot, Melinda imagines wearing gold eye shadow as a beautiful yet untouchable alien. However, she backs away from this image by purchasing black and red nail polish to cover her chewed up nails. In doing so, she once again backs away from a positive image of herself, settling on makeup that expresses her depression rather than challenging it.

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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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