Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

898 Words4 Pages
Speak, a novel written by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a memorable story about a girl who overcomes a horrific experience, rape, and with it, injustice. Melinda, the main protagonist, has an emotional journey, and with the help of her art teacher, Mr. Freeman, survives through this excursion. As Mr. Freeman says, “‘Welcome to the journey’” (12). Mr. Freeman assists Melinda, by constantly questioning her emotional being, turning an art project into a pool of her feelings, and forcing Melinda to see the light in her heart. With Mr. Freeman lifting her emotional baggage, Melinda can finally be free and with that, experience happiness once again. Melinda was in a blur all throughout the school year, because of the incident during the summer, but…show more content…
Freeman’s constant “additood.” Melinda crafted herself into a new person while sculpting her tree over the school year. “I’ve been painting watercolors of trees that have been getting hit by lightning. I try to paint them so they are nearly dead, but not totally. Mr. Freeman doesn’t say a word to me about them. He just raises his eyebrows. One picture is so dark you can barely see the tree” (30). In the beginning of the book, her tree was struck by lightning, like how her self-worth was struck down by IT. IT, being Andy Evans, was the guy who traumatized her and broke her spirit by raping her. Melinda also creates a turkey-bone structure, and she receives a strange reaction, “He doesn’t say anything and I’m afraid he’s pissed that I took out the palm tree. Ivy tries again. ‘It’s scary,’ she says” (64). Mr. Freeman also makes an unexpected comment, “‘This has meaning. Pain’” (65). As the story progresses her tree evolves into a weeping willow, “I sketch a willow drooping into the water. I won’t show Mr. Freeman. This one is for my closet” (147). The weeping willow symbolizes her tears slipping into a pool as she slowly accepts her past. Melinda’s closet is her small hideaway that she would often find herself when she was feeling overwhelmed or wanted peace. By the end of the story, she has a full grown, healthy and strong tree. “The bark is rough… the crown reaches for the sun, tall and healthy. The new growth is the best part” (196). The tree represents her finally coming to terms with her emotions, and how she realized that she is strong and has scars that can be outgrown as
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