The Speak Novel Essay

In the novel ​Speak​, the author depicts a young girl who undergoes a traumatic situation that impacts her life and affects her interaction with her family and the peers at Merry Weather High School. Laurie Halse Anderson bases the novel on the life of a young girl, Melinda Sordino, who faces a life-changing ordeal while at her friend’s party and battles with the psychological effects and copes with the trauma the best way she knows. The main character, Melinda, battles with both frequent misunderstandings between her parents and the pressures to fit in at school while battling the challenges of being raped. The ordeal makes Melinda Sordino be generally quiet and devise ways to hide her emotions and avoid people. ‘I am a good actor…when people point at me or whisper as I walk past, I wave to imaginary friends down the hall and hurry to meet them’ (p.33, Anderson L.H.).

Melinda Sordino faces numerous challenges because of the rape, especially Physical and Psychological Essay focuses the effects of her rape Physical and Psychological. Melinda Sordino is depicted by the author as a person who is unbothered about things and pays less attention to the things that her peers find interesting. Melinda is antisocial and prefers doing things that keep her secluded away from her peers. “I wasted the last weeks of August watching bad cartoons. I didn’t go to the mall, the lake, or the pool, or answer the phone…’ (p.4 Anderson L.H.). Melinda also has a negative attitude about self and has low self-worth as portrayed in her conversation with Heather about not having friends and belonging to famous clans in high school. Heather strongly believes that they both deserve a shot at being in the musical but Melinda’s opinion is contrary, and she replies that ‘we are nobody’ (p.34 Anderson L.H.). The author also depicts the level of resentment that Melinda possesses based on her first description of Andy Evans, the person who raped her just before she starts ninth grade.

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Melinda describes her first interaction with Andy Evans after the ordeal as “I’m a hanging a poster outside the metal-shop room when IT creeps up. Little flecks of metal slice through my veins. IT whispers to me…” (p.86 Anderson L.H.). Melinda refers to Andy Even’s as “IT” because she doesn’t want to give him an Identity or any power. By not giving him a name, gives him less power. The ordeal in the hands of Andy Evans has psychologically affected Melinda and makes her extremely angry virtually all the time. ‘When I wake up in the morning, my jaws are clenched so tight I have a headache’ (p.50 Anderson L.H.). Additionally, Melinda is reserved and detached as outlined by the author because she finds it harder to share her traumatic experience and rather keeps her emotions bottled in as she states ‘My closet is a good thing, a quiet place that helps me hold these thoughts inside my head where no one can hear them’ (p.51 Anderson L.H.).

Melinda’s trait of bottling in her thoughts of the rape is also evident during her biology class frog incident that causes her to pass out and rapture her head that requires stitching. As the doctor reviews Melinda and looks at her eyes, she thinks to herself ‘The doctor stares into the back of my eyes with a bright light. Can she read the thoughts hidden in there? If she can, what will she do? Call the cops? Send me to a nuthouse? Do I want her to? I just want to sleep…” (p.81 Anderson L.H.). The party at Rachel Bruin’s place proves to be an incident that Melinda wishes to forget because of the ordeal that the goes through in the hands of Andy Evans who takes advantage of her and forcefully rapes her. The rape incident changes Melinda’s view of herself and makes her lose her self-respect and after being raped by IT she says ‘…I saw my face over the window over the kitchen sink, and no words came out of my mouth. Who was that girl? I had never seen her before’ (p.136 Anderson L.H.).

The rape incident makes Melinda view herself differently blaming herself from the whole ordeal thus denouncing herself to be a stranger after being raped. Melinda stopped holding herself in high esteem after the rape incident and views herself as a different person who is not worthy of anything. The rape has affected Melina’s social life because she does not have self-confidence or self-worth anymore. Andy Evans has affected the ninth-grader Melinda in numerous ways. The rape has caused both physical and psychological problems that have affected the well-being of Melinda and her relations with both her family and her peers. The reminder of the rape ordeal hurts Melinda physically as she states that “My head is killing me, my throat is killing me, my stomach bubbles with toxic waste” (p.165 Anderson L.H.). The aftermath of the rape has affected Melinda physically, and she has periodic headaches and physical pain that are resulting from the trauma. As supported by Mr. Freeman, the art teacher, the art presented by Melinda in class can be interpreted as works of someone who is undergoing painful episodes in life and the teacher’s reaction of the art is ‘This has a meaning. Pain’ (p.65 Anderson L.H.).

The artistic expressions by Melinda can easily be interpreted as a cry for help and expression of the pain of being raped without having a support system to offer specialized help. The uncertainty about the reactions from her family and friends has given Melinda mixed thoughts about whether to speak out about her rape ordeal or not. The trauma has caused her to keep things to herself, and Melinda’s justification for not sharing about her rape ordeal to her parents is evident in her comment when she rhetorically asks her parents inside her head ‘Would you listen? Would you believe me? Fat chance’ (p.114 Anderson L.H.). The fear of ridicule and downplaying the gravity of her ordeal made Melinda keep the pain of her rape ordeal to herself. The thought of sharing the ordeal also popped up frequently as Melinda also believed that it was her responsibility to share and get things off her chest because they are eating her up.

Melinda’s thoughts of sharing her rape ordeal conflicted her belief that nobody would believe her and her desire to speak up and let things off her chest are evident when she says “I should probably tell someone, just tell someone. Get it over with. Let it out, blurt it out” (p.99 Anderson L.H.). She also had thoughts of speaking up and letting people do whatever they want with the information, after all, she has spoken her truth. An evident effect of the rape on Melinda is that it affected her will to leave and psychologically prompted her to give up on life on many different occasions. The rape greatly affects Melinda psychologically and almost takes away her will to live because she feels worthless. The first instance where Melinda shows a loss in her will to live is when she contemplates suicide to end her suffering and the effects of trauma from rape, and this is clear when she says ‘I open up a paper clip and scratch it across inside of my left wrist. Pitiful. If a suicide attempt is a cry for help, then what is this?” (p.87 Anderson L.H.).

The rape also affects Melinda psychologically and makes her hopeless and unwilling to face the struggles of life. The sense of defeat is also evident in her statement when she says “I just want to sleep. A coma would be nice. Or Amnesia. Anything just to get rid of this, these thoughts, whispers in my mind” (p.165 Anderson H.L.). The rape greatly affects Melinda psychologically and causes her to have troubled relations with people around her. The rape , however, did not defeat Melinda as she manages to face her fears and fight off the stigma and trauma associated with rape. Melinda’s resolve to defeat the trauma of the rape ordeal is evident in her bid to speak with Rachel Bruin to tell her what Andy Evans did, and she says ‘The time has come to arm-wrestle some demons’ (p.180 Anderson H.L.). Melinda finally commits to defeat her demons and deal with the psychological effects of the rape ordeal. Melinda’s resolve to defeat the trauma of her rape is inspired by advice from two people who impacted her life, Mr. Freeman who tells her “…Nothing is perfect. Flaws are interesting. Be the tree” (p.153 Anderson H.L.). David Petrakis also inspires Melinda to grow from her rape ordeal by speaking about her issues when he says “But don’t expect to make a difference unless you speak for yourself” (p.159 Anderson H.L.).

Melinda’s confidence and courage are evident when she finally tells Rachel Bruin about what actually happened during the party at her place and the reason behind calling 9-1-1. The courage is portrayed when Melinda states​ ​“I was stupid and drunk and I didn’t know what was happening and then he hurt-I scribbled that out-raped me” (p.183 Anderson H.L.). Melinda’s courage to write that people should stay away from Andy Evans gave others the courage to speak up, and they also voiced their opinions about their experiences with Andy Evans. Melinda also finally faces her fears when Andy Evans tries to attack her for warning Rachel Bruin and ‘A sound explodes from me ‘NNNOOO” (p.194 Anderson L.H.). Melinda finally gains courage and breaks a mirror into pieces and later uses glass to threaten Andy to submission ‘I reach in and wrap my fingers around a triangle of glass. I hold it to Andy Evans’s neck. He freezes…” (p.195 Anderson L.H.).

Finally, Melinda accepts her past and determines to rise from the trauma of her rape “IT happened. There is no avoiding it, no forgetting. No running away, or flying, or burying, or hiding” (p.198 Anderson L.H.). The rape that Melinda Sordino went through in the hands of Andy Evans as described by the author is a reflection of a critical issue in our society today. Some young girls are raped by their peers, older boys, or even adults who take advantage of them. The young girls cannot defend themselves when they are exposed to alcohol as described by Melinda who says ‘I was stupid and drunk and I didn’t know what was happening…’ (p.183 Anderson H.L.).

The teenage girls in parties are often raped because they are drunk and do not have the chance to make a sound judgment. The issue of rape is common and should be addressed adequately because the majority of the girls who are raped do not speak up because of the stigma and uncertainties involved suppose they decide to speak up. The girls who are raped suffer psychological trauma and failure to address the problems result in many teenage girls committing suicide as Melinda had attempted by slitting her left wrist (p.87 Anderson L.H.). Young girls who are raped need support through counseling and the perpetrators need to be arrested and charged in court for their crimes to help ease the pain since the situation is irreversible.

Melinda has shown us as readers that even though a traumatic experience happens to you, it doesn’t mean you always have to live like you’re trapped into it. After Melinda got raped she didn’t want to do anything with friends,School,teachers and Family. She was trapped from the traumatic experience she had to go through. It wasn’t till. she was forced in a closet with Evan, trying to rape her agina. She gained her power back, She broke a piece of a mirror. She broke out of her trap that she was in. She gained back the power, that was taken away from her. This was an aspiring part of the book because Most Rape Victims don’t get their justice that they deserve. After Melinda fought for herself and everybody else that has been trapped because Evans. Her Self-Confidence grow, she grow from everything.

The author uses Melinda Sordino and other characters revolving around her to address an important societal vice that is often overlooked. The character traits of Melinda after the rape depict the extent to which rape affects young victims physically and psychologically and further affect relations with family and friends. Young victims of rape often do not dare to speak up, and it is the responsibility of different people in the society to provide an environment where they can speak up and seek help before it eats them up and possible Harm themselves.

Work Cited

  1. Anderson, Laurie Halse. ​Speak​. New York: Square Fish, 2011. Print.

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The Speak Novel Essay. (2022, Jun 08). Retrieved from