Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson

997 Words4 Pages

Silence Brings Change "It is better to be outspoken than to be silent." This famous quote, spoken by suffrage activist Elizabeth Cady Stanton, highlights the importance of speaking out against injustice. In the graphic novel Speak, author Laurie Halse Anderson explores the themes of silence and speaking out through the story of Melinda, a freshman in high school who is sexually assaulted at a party by Andy Evans, a senior while she is drunk. Overwhelmed by trauma and fear, Melinda chooses to keep silent, hoping that what happened will simply go away. However, her silence only fuels her internal struggle to speak out and seek justice. Anderson uses Melinda's story to illustrate the way silence can be suffocating and how speaking out is necessary …show more content…

Melinda's internal conflict between speaking out about her assault and denying its reality is a central theme in the novel. On the night of a party she was invited to, she had too much to drink. She stumbled into a forest, unaware of the people and her surroundings. Andy Evans, a senior, took advantage of her drunken state and sexually assaulted her. The trauma from the night caused her to be in a state of denial and shock. She chooses to deny everything that happened from that night and pretend that everything was a dream and nothing really happened. However, she knew she was violated, and the feeling of her body not being her own is a constant reminder that she should speak out about what really happened, “It’s getting harder to talk..I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. There is a beast in my gut scraping away at the inside of my ribs.”(Anderson) Melinda compares the gnawing truth with a beast and how even though she tries to avoid the truth, the truth is always there, trying to break free from her own silence. She constantly suffered nightmares, plagued from the truth and what happened that night. She never outwardly says anything about it. While Melinda’s denial is a common response to trauma it is …show more content…

However, their voices would not be suppressed, growing into the Seneca Falls Convention and the Women’s Suffrage Movement. Women speaking out from years of suppression was a revolutionary moment especially since it has never been seen before in any other country. Melinda references the women’s suffrage many times during her own journey of self growth and expression, “Women were treated like dolls, not allowed to have ideas, opinions, or voices. Then the Suffragettes marched in, loud and in your face. They were arrested and thrown in jail but nothing shut them up. They kept fighting until they had the rights they should’ve had all along.” (Anderson 278). Instead of being controlled by their silence. Their silence became a weapon for change. Silent protests exploded around the country. The women activists were now known as the silent sentinels. During 1919, Alice Paul declared her official declaration of war, finally breaking the silence of oppression. Her quote was a battle cry in their own way, speaking out against the silence, “When men are denied justice, they go to war. This is our war, only we are fighting it with banners instead of guns..” Even though many people did not support their tactics, saying that it was appalling and inappropriate for women to be speaking out, they still stood their ground. Using silence as a protest tactic

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