May 17, 2012

Young Adult Literature: The Class (Day 13)

"Melinda recovers, in part, by writing things down."

Spoilers ahead for Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak.

We ended last class with Melinda's choice to be silent -- but now, we talk about her recovery!

Let's have summary with citations, shall we?

Melinda slowly begins to recover as the novel goes on, kicking off with actively staying away from Andy Evans (page 175) and acknowledging her issues with him, finally giving a face to "IT" (page 185). Melinda finally says "no" to Heather (178), foreshadowing the event at the end of the novel with Andy Evans. And most importantly, she starts making friends -- Ivy, David, her art teacher Mr. Freeman.

We also talked about how her recovery ties into her story as a bilsdungroman, and the evolution of Melinda throughout the novel.

"Part of coming the age can be the realization that the world is not all good."

We'll skip the heavy plant imagery -- it represents Melinda's healing, yadayada, it's not difficult to figure out. The trees, the working in the garden, the artwork, you got the deal.

And we'll skip the show of the written word to help heal and how she gives up the closet, how she finally admits she's raped, etc. It's all clear evolution of Melinda and fun stuff and good but kind of boring to read about, because you can figure it out.

No, no, let's go back to Andy Evans.

We spent a while on Andy in class and decided that even though he comes across as kind of flat, it works for his character as a symbol (and a villain). He doesn't need to grow as a character, because he doesn't see himself as having a problem -- and, as it's through Melinda's POV, she's never gonna see him as changing.

Hence why it's so gratifying when she reclaims her life -- through the mirror -- at the end.

Because Andy Evans is an asshole.

Next class, we talk about Walter Dean Myers' Monster.

Question for the comments:
Have you seen the movie version of Speak? What do you think of their interpretation of the ending?

Did you miss a class?:
(Day 1)
(Day 2)
(Day 3)
(Day 4)
(Day 5)
(Day 6)
(Day 7)
(Day 8)
(Day 9)
(Day 10)
(Day 11)
(Day 12)


  1. I read SPEAK a couple of years ago for Banned Book Month and loved it. I really like your analysis of Andy, and he's TOTALLY an asshole.

    Hey, congrats on getting a RAOK shoutout this week!

  2. Mmm, we've seen the movie but not read the book, so we don't know how to compare them to answer your question...?

    "He doesn't need to grow as a character, because he doesn't see himself as having a problem..."

    Exactly! We definitely prefer for villains to be rich characters, but at the end of the day, they're not going to change as much as the heroes/heroines because they don't see themselves as villains at all!


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