Depression In Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson

1222 Words5 Pages

Depression isn’t typically something that is capable of being physically seen. Those who have it might show signs, but it requires a lot for someone to look into them, and discover what that person is going through. In the novel Speak written by Laurie Halse Anderson, symbolism is used to develop an unspoken theme of depression. This is done so through the janitor’s closet, the turkey sculpture, and the constant mentioning of trees. Depression can cause people to alienate themselves and their thoughts from others. Throughout the novel, this is presented through the symbolism of the janitor’s closet that Melinda claims as her own. Firstly, after stumbling into an old janitor’s closet while trying to get away from a teacher, Melinda chooses to …show more content…

She refers to it as having “no purpose” and “no name,” and then says it’s the “perfect place” for her due to that reason (Anderson 26). By comparing herself to it, she’s saying that she has no purpose as well, which is something that those with depression tend to believe. They feel hopeless and useless, and they assume that they aren’t worth anything. This symbolism helps develop an overall theme of depression. Secondly, depression can also cause people to alienate themselves from others, and they prefer not to share their thoughts or feelings out of fear. Melinda refers to her closet as a “quiet place” that helps her keep her thoughts inside her head “where no one can read them” (Anderson 51). She’s separating herself from people, and refusing to talk about what happened, which is something that someone with depression would try to do. Lastly, the deeper somebody falls into depression, the more desperate the situation becomes, and it can make them feel claustrophobic due to pent-up feelings. As Melinda slowly fills up her closet with a multitude of drawings she states that they “make the closet feel …show more content…

After randomly selecting a piece of paper that has the word “tree” printed on it, Mr. Freeman states that she had just chosen her destiny. At first, she expresses her confusion as to why something so simple could be so important, but throughout the book her interpretation of trees changes in order to portray a theme of depression. For instance, when Melinda first began painting trees they all appeared to be “nearly dead, but not totally,” and some had even “been hit by lightning” (Anderson 30). The idea that Mr. Freeman presented that the tree is supposed to represent Melinda along with the fact that they’re on the verge of death shows us how she is really feeling on the inside. The damage caused by her experiences at the party left her feeling broken and hopeless, and is the cause of her depression. Secondly, as the diseased branches on the large tree in Melinda’s yard are being cut down her father states that “by cutting off the damage, you can make it possible for the tree to grow again,” and that it will eventually be “the strongest on the block” (Anderson 187). The tree represents Melinda, and the diseased branches represent the damage that was left behind from the incident during the party. She refuses to talk about what happened, and due to that, it’s slowly dragging her even deeper into depression, however, if she would open up and talk about it she would have the ability to pull herself out.

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