Rape is a difficult subject to explain to others because it is traumatic experience that people not involved will be unable to deal with the situation. Laurie Anderson’s novel Speak focuses on this very issue. The protagonist, Melinda Sordino, must face the challenges of high school, family issues, and the inability to express herself. Mr. Freeman, David Petrakis, and sports are the things Melinda relies on to overcome the past that haunts her. Mr. Freeman is a factor that motivates Melinda Sordino to learn from her mistakes and took look beyond times of difficulty.
On the first day of school Melinda is an outcast who encounters Mr. Freeman, an art teacher who has a very different perspective on life. He introduces himself with “Welcome to the only class that will teach you how to survive high school”(10). At first Melinda thinks art class will not help her get through life but in fact in is the only class, which she can express her felling through art. As a result Melinda is assign a project. She must draw a tree. She believes that is will be essay but soon finds out that it will change her look on life.
After a horrible thanksgiving Melinda brings in the carcass of their thanksgiving dinner to make a sculpture out of it. Mr. Freeman Comments on it “Your on fire Melinda, I can see it in your eyes”(61) Melinda is starting to get into the sculpture and it is becoming a nice sculpture. Mr. Freeman can see that Melinda is beginning to turn a bad thanksgiving nightmare into a finished sculpture. Melinda is learning how to express herself not only though he voice, but though her art.
David Petrakis is a factor that inspires Melinda Sordino to express her felling’s through her voice and to speck out about what happen to her. It is the beginning of class when Mr. Neck, a social studies teacher, storms into class and yells at the class because his son did not get the job he wants. David Petrakis is feed up with the tone of the lesson and stands up to Mr. Neck “ Maybe your son did not get the job because he is not good enough. Or he is lazy. Or the other guy is better than him, no matter what his skin color is”(55).
Melinda sees that David is standing up to Mr. Neck and at first thinks that he is a very brave kid to stand up to a teacher like take. After she leaves the class Melinda starts to think about the incident in social studies. Melinda is starting the think about how she can speak up about what happened to her. When David stand up to Mr. Neck Melinda get inspired to express her felling through her voice. Melinda had is given back her report and receives a D Melinda goes a talks to David about it” But you got it wrong.
The suffragettes were all about speaking up, screaming for their rights. You cannot speak up for your right to be silent”(159). Even though Melinda though she had done good on her report about the suffragettes Melinda did not get the point, it was that they stood up for their rights with their voices, something that Melinda needs to learn how to do. David is trying to express to Melinda that she need to learn how to speak up and express herself through her voice. Sports are a way for Melinda Sordino to fell welcome into a new group of friends and fell less worthless.
Melinda is in the gym shooting foul shot when the girls’ basketball coach calls Melinda over “If you volunteer to teach the Basketball Pole how to swish a foul shot, I will give you an automatic A in gym”(77). Even though Melinda does not take the opportunity for the A Melinda finds out that she is very good at basketball. Melinda wants to join the team but worries about the physical contact. Melinda is starting to fell welcome again into the school because the school needs her so that is inspiring to Melinda. In gym class, the girls play tennis. Melinda is pretty good at the sport so she gets matched up with Nicole. “Ms.
Connors pairs me up with jock goddess Nicole to demonstrate the game to the rest of the class I serve first and we rally for a little. Nicole serves next at like ninety miles and hour it kisses the ground just inside the court. I serve next I slam into the ball sending it right toward Nicole’s mouth…. ”(170). Melinda’s experiences in gym class, during her tennis match with Nicole, Melinda is able to not only channel her bottle up hate, but also to experience the thrill of being good at something. Even Through Melinda did not defeat Nicole; Melinda starts thinking about the future and tries making some go and practice some tennis with her dad.
Melinda never though that her ability to survive ninth grade was good enough, let alone make even minimal plans. So Melinda’s decision to pursue tennis as a hobby foreshadows her new engagement with life. Most people manage to get though high school without experiencing the level of troubles Melinda must face. Through Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson informs her readers to stand up for themself seek out peers in times of trouble and find activities that suit you. As a result the reader is able to indirectly conquer obstacles (large and small) in their own life.