As a coming of age novel, Speak has a strong focus on adolescence and the problems and also desires linked with it. Despite Melinda's unusually traumatic experiences, almost every leader can connect to the human being she stays in. Melinda perform the cliques that the 9th grade course has broken into: "Jocks, nation Clubbers, you are fool Savants, Cheerleaders, human being Waste, Eurotrash, Future Fascists of America, large Hair Chix, the Marthas, experiencing Artists, Thespians, Goths, Shredders" (4), acquainted high institution groups. Countless readers will also understand Melinda's feeling of adolescent social isolation. Her negative reactions to details aspects that the institution day, such as gym class ("Gym course should be illegal. It is humiliating" <18>) and also lunch ("Nothing great ever happens at lunch. The cafeteria is a gigantic sound stage where castle film daily segments that Teenage Humiliation Rituals. And it smells gross" <104>), are not distinctive to someone suffering from post-traumatic stress. Furthermore, Melinda exhibits a typical adolescent reaction to government figures and rejects castle by offering them man nicknames.

The template of adolescence connects Melinda come the genuine world. Not only does it make her story less complicated to called to, but it additionally makes it extensively applicable. Melinda's especially circumstances simply highlight the universal difficulties of adolescence--not just the social problems, yet the conflicting pulls in between the future adult self and also the previous child self. Melinda feels dismayed through the sexuality of she high college peers, largely since she is a victim of sexual violence, but additionally because she does no feel all set for this next phase the life. Coming to terms through what occurred to her permits her to ultimately accept the she is beginning this brand-new stage, and look front to her future.

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Much the Melinda's life revolves around communication or lack thereof. In the novel, we witness various creates of communication: sticky notes ~ above the kitchen counter, notebooks passed between students, letters left on institution lockers, words on the chalkboard, record devices, telephone calls, and spoken conversations. Melinda's communication is mainly non-verbal. She expresses anxiousness and fear by biting her lip or to run away. She asks she parents for favors by creating them notes. Also when she speaks, she frequently does not say what she wants to. As soon as Heather tells Melinda the they deserve to no longer be friends, Melinda says, "I try to think of something bitchy, other wicked and also cruel. Ns can't" (105). That course, the most major communication problem in the novel requires Melinda's need to tell someone about the rape. The is not until the 4th Marking period that Melinda find the courage to say anything. Interestingly, however, in this early stage confession of she secret, she still does not speak. Instead, she passes a keep in mind to Rachel explaining the night the the party. Even after her second attack, once the entire school learn of her history with Andy Evans, Melinda still has not spoken, the lacrosse team has. It is not till the really last line of the novel the we know Melinda is going to finally tell her story the end loud. The ultimate communication in the story is distinctly left the end of the novel, making the template even more apparent.


Laurie Halse Anderson once said in an interview, "I've learned that Speak is not simply a book around rape. Speak is a book around depression." Depression is the unspoken template that specifies Melinda's habits for lot of the novel. While she does exhibition some noticeable external signs, such together cutting she wrist v a paperclip, lot of Melinda's depression is internal and is not completely understood by anyone, including herself. Her behavior issues stem from her depression and her absence of desire to actively engage in her life. She lip chewing habit acts likewise to cutting she wrist: the physical pain indigenous biting she lips helps her to temporarily forget her emotionally pain and also is a physics expression of her self-hatred. Due to the fact that of Melinda's solid internal voice, that is clear the she is no a normally weak person. To the contrary, she is witty and smart, astutely observing those about her. Hence Speak deserve to be watched not together the story of a girl growing stronger, however of one already strong girl overcoming depression.

Female Empowerment

Anderson touches on the design template of mrs empowerment throughout the novel. Melinda chooses to do a report top top suffragettes for extra credit transaction in Mr. Neck's class. However, at the critical minute, Mr. Neck informs Melinda the she should read her report in front of the entire class. Horrified in ~ this prospect, Melinda imagine a plan in i m sorry she likens it s her to a suffragette and stands up for her best to not provide speeches. In act this, Anderson straight connects Melinda to the theme of woman empowerment. More importantly, she differentiate Melinda's habits from those of strong female leaders. After ~ Melinda obtain a "D" on the report, David Petrakis says, "But you obtained it wrong. The suffragettes to be all about speaking up, screaming for your rights. Girlfriend can't speak up for your right to be silent. That's letting the poor guys win." Melinda's battle to speak is a struggle to break complimentary of woman voicelessness, and also to actually emulate these strong female duty models, who got a voice in national politics for all women.

Gender Roles/Sexuality

Speak typically defines sex roles in the most obvious and also traditional way. Melinda's mother, regardless of her absence of cooking abilities, insists on food preparation Thanksgiving dinner to satisfy her duty as a wife and mother. The Marthas room a group of girls who idolize Martha Stewart and engage in community service and also homemaking activities. Heather plays into female sexuality by follow a task as a bathing suit model, through an adult masculine photographer encouraging her to it is in sexier. Melinda pays acute attention to these sex roles and to the idea the the female together a sexual object. For example, Melinda's janitor closet has actually been abandoned because the new janitor's lounge opened. Melinda says, "All the girls protect against since of the way stare and also whistle softly as soon as we go by" (26). In arts class, she notices Picasso's proclivity for painting women in the nude and after concludes, "Naked women is art, naked males a no-no, ns bet" (119). The reality that she think Rachel will only like Andy more if she calls that dangerous emphasizes just how she associates these sex roles with sex-related violence. That is for this reason understandable the her dislike of gender roles is stronger than the usual high college student. It also helps define why she is so reluctant to grow up--if farming up method having to it is in encapsulated in the accepted female sex role, she isn't interested.


Memory and Melinda's inability to forget what happened in August feature prominently in Speak. Melinda continually talks around trying to erase her memory by being silent. Furthermore, transparent the novel, us witness Melinda reconstructing her memory of what occurred at the party. She begins the novel can not to say Andy Evans' name. By the spring she is finally able to recognize to herself that she to be raped. Physical evidence of this memory reconstruction comes through Melinda's created confession to Rachel. She at an initial writes "hurt," but instantly crosses that out and also replaces that with words "rape." hence when Melinda regains she voice, she is also finally ready to remember. She realizes that remembering, though painful--like cut sick limbs turn off a tree--is important for healing and also growth.

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Plants space a major motif in the novel, provided to represent the importance and the difficulty of growth. In art class, Melinda is assigned "tree" together the object v which she will certainly be working for the remainder of the school year. Her link with tree grows stronger close to the end of the novel, when she starts obsessively raking pipeline from her front yard. She father calls the arborists to have dead branches eliminated from the family's oak tree. ~ hearing she father describe the objective of this come a passerby, Melinda decides she demands to trim her very own dead branches, which will be painful, however which will enable her to gain back her health and also to grow. Trees are not the only plant that play a duty in Melinda's life--after making use of apples to examine reproduction in biology class, Melinda studies and also is fascinated through the botanic reproductive process, and also specifically through how plenty of obstacles and also dangers seeds face in transitioning indigenous seed to plant, as she walk in turning from son to adult. Later in the novel, she asks she dad to buy her seed so that she can garden in her yard, showing that she ultimately has a desire come grow.

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