Animal Motifs In Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

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What role does the animal motif play in the novel?

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, the animal motif helps illustrate characters and asserts that people often act in primitive ways.

In Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, the animal motif helps illustrate characters and asserts that people often act in primitive and predatory ways.
Many characters in Speak are divided into two categories: predators and prey, each category informing the reader about the character themselves and the nature of people in general.
One clear example of a “predator” in the novel is Melinda’s teacher, Mr. Neck.
From the beginning of the novel, Melinda describes Mr. Neck with phrases like “A predator approaches” (5) and “Our guard dog today is Mr. Neck. He curls his
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Describing Andy as a predator both shows his true colors and implies that there are people Andy preys upon.
Melinda, the novel’s protagonist, characterizes herself as prey.
During interactions with Andy, Melinda often refers to herself as “BunnyRabbit”, like when Andy approaches her in public and “BunnyRabbit bolts, leaving fast tracks in the snow. Getaway getaway getaway” (97), or as a preyed upon animal, like when she’s caught in the middle of the gym and she says “I stand in the center aisle of the auditorium, a wounded zebra in a National Geographic special, looking for someone, anyone, to sit next to” (5), or “I am a deer frozen in the headlights” (161).
Melinda’s role as prey explains the degeneration of her existence into merely survival: she is “Freshmeat” for others to attack. The predator-prey dichotomy emphasizes the idea of Melinda being preyed upon by the majority of the characters, and speaks to human nature in general; there are predators and there are prey, and the way we categorizes ourselves influences who we are and how we
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