Summary and Analysis
Second Marking Period, Peeled and Cored"-"Wombats Rule""
In biology, Melinda is studying the reproductive qualities of plants, particularly apples. She and David Petrakis, her lab partner, core their apples and the scent of apples reminds Melinda of being a child and going to an apple orchard with her parents, of a time when the three of them were a happy family. In Melinda's apple, one seed has sprouted; she shows it to her teacher and gets extra credit.
David Petrakis brings a tape recorder to history class, causing Mr. Neck to conduct class professionally, although he gives David the evil eye the entire time. David's family has hired a lawyer, causing Mr. Neck to behave, especially once the lawyer helps David get permission to videotape rather than just audiotape class sessions with Mr. Neck.
Heather convinces Melinda to go to the Winter Assembly with her because the Marthas do not allow Heather to sit with them. Heather gives Melinda bell earrings for Christmas. At the assembly, the principal announces that the new school mascot will be the Wombat, based on election results. Melinda finds pleasure in the cheerleaders' trouble with finding words to rhyme with "wombat."
Two symbols of hope emerge in these sections in the form of apples and David's continued rebellion against Mr. Neck. Melinda's happy childhood memory of an apple orchard contrasts with her recent experience of Thanksgiving. In her memory, Melinda's parents are affectionate with each other and the air is warm and welcoming. During Thanksgiving, her parents had barely spoken to each other and the day was both emotionally and literally cold and bleak. Despite that gloomy holiday, glimmers of hope begin to emerge symbolized by Melinda's joyful memory. In addition, the sprouting seed represents hope for new life and foreshadows the emotional breakthrough she will later experience. Instead of seeing herself as a dead or lightning-struck tree, she might be able to see herself as this seed, struggling for life no matter what the odds.
Additionally, David's ongoing lawsuit against Mr. Neck provides Melinda with hope, as well. First, David, through the support of his family, is able to get a lawyer on his side and to record class sessions with Mr. Neck. These actions indicate he is not only a very moral and ethical young man, but that he is smart and unflinching in his resolve. Melinda finds David to be a comforting presence. She tends to focus on the negative around her (such as the two-faced cheerleaders and the hapless Principal Principal), so having David as a role model could help her see him not only as a trustworthy friend, but also as a symbol of the type of person she would like to be.