Analysis: Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson

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Journeys can be quite complex, at times being unpredictable in the catalyst, obstacles, or destination. A single decision can set off a chain reaction of events, potentially altering the outcome drastically. In a life-changing event, the way one deals with the aftermath shapes the future ahead as well as the person they will become. Choosing whether to speak up, reach out, and find support is critical when struggling with something. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a journey story because it focuses on Melinda’s emotional struggles and growth as she copes with the trauma of being raped. One place where this is apparent is her janitor’s closet at school. Melinda wants to hide away from her classmates, who hate her, her teachers, whom she dislikes,…show more content…
My throat is always sore, my lips raw. When I wake up in the morning, my jaws are clenched so tight I have a headache. Sometimes my mouth relaxes around Heather, if we’re alone. Every time I try to talk to my parents or a teacher, I sputter or freeze. What is wrong with me? It’s like I have some kind of spastic laryngitis” (50-51). There are multiple reasons why Melinda might have trouble talking to this extent. Perhaps she’s afraid nobody will hear her, and if they do, they won’t believe her or they might refuse to listen to what she has to say. She might be trying to make herself less noticeable and panics whenever someone she’s not comfortable with tries to pick her out to interact. Part of it may also be a fear of Andy and what he could do to her if she revealed his secret. Over time, Melinda starts to overcome this fear and reaches out to more people, such as Heather, David, Ivy, Mr. Freeman, and eventually Rachel, who is the first person she tells about the rape. Melinda remains quiet for the most part, though, until Andy tries to attack her again in the janitor’s closet: “A sound explodes from me. ‘NNNOOO!!!’.... I scream, I scream. Why aren’t the walls falling? I’m screaming loud enough to make the whole school crumble” (194). Finally,…show more content…
There’s the Confused Period, when I wasn’t sure what the assignment really was. The Spaz Period, when I couldn’t draw a tree to save my life. The Dead Period, when all my trees looked like they had been through a forest fire or a blight. I’m getting better. Don’t know what to call this phase yet” (151-152). The “Confused Period” could represent when she isn’t really sure how to deal with being alienated; she doesn’t know how to react to other people, so she isolates herself in order to avoid them. The “Spaz Period” could be panic from the presence of the menacing “Andy Beast” as well as the pressure to improve her grades and her place in the school’s society. The “Dead Period” could be the time when she isn’t sure how to process and express her emotions in a way that she or other people can understand. However, Melinda is healing, and even though she hasn’t mastered the tree or her emotions yet, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. When she does turn in her final tree, she feels much better about her situation: “I look at my homely sketch. It doesn’t need anything. Even through the river in my eyes I can see that. It isn’t perfect and that makes it just right” (198). By the time Melinda says this, Andy has been condemned for his actions, and she has the support of everyone who has now heard

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