The Growing Tree
The novel Speak, written by Laurie Halse Anderson, is the story of a high school outcast, Melinda Sordino, who cares little about herself as well as the people around her. The summer before Melinda enters high school, she attends a party where she gets drunk. At this party, a senior by the name of Andy Evans uses and rapes her, leading Melinda calling the police. Melinda narrates the story as she faces the cliques, bullies, and fights. Throughout the novel, Melinda reveals her emotions and personality through her artwork because she refuses to speak. The tree, which Melinda repeatedly sculpts or draws in art class, symbolizes the growth and changes in her character. Melinda’s tree has a variety of forms throughout the novel including a dead tree, a developing, unrealistic tree, and a beautiful tree, which seems to come alive. The dead tree in the beginning of the novel represents Melinda’s initial personality.
At first, Melinda’s artwork consists of a variety of dead and emotionless trees that also symbolize her character. Melinda’s first tree consists of two vertical lines, thick and thin branches, and hundreds of leaves in order to hide the mistakes. The final outcome of this tree is a boring, simple, and overall, emotionless result. During the production of the tree, Melinda herself feels dead and emotionless. On the first day of school, the ninth graders go to the auditorium, falling into cliques. Melinda realizes that she has the wrong clothes and hair, wrong personality, and no friends to sit with. Melinda also feels dread after she hears her old friend, Rachel Bruin, laughing at her. After searching for a spot in the auditorium and finding no comfort in her surroundings, Melinda realizes that she is unwelcome and an outcast. Melinda also shows how her personality is emotionless and dead when she returns home from the first day of school. After she finishes eating, Melinda decides to take a nap. However, it is not a real...
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