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SPEAK Symbolism and Themes

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Kyla Larkin

on 19 December 2013

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Transcript of SPEAK Symbolism and Themes

In Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, closets are one of the main symbols. Melinda uses her closet to escape reality and be herself. "I sneak into my closet after school because I can't face the idea of riding home on a bus full of sweaty, smiling teeth sucking up my oxygen." This shows that she is hiding in her closet after school just because she doesn't want to ride the bus. Another example of her being herself in her closet is when she says "I have to stay away from the closet, go to all my classes. I will make myself normal." This means that she's been skipping classes in her closet, she's going to try not to, and she's going to try to be normal. This is why closets are a big symbol in Speak.
TREES and plants
In Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Trees/plants are one of the other main symbols. Trees/plants reflect emotions as she works her way through depression. In the worst part of her depression, she was feeling somewhat, well, dead. "My last tree looked like it died of some fungal infection"(Anderson 92). I wold guess that she's not feeling too good. She feels like her trees suck. After she fights Andy and overcomes her depression, her trees begin to look better. "My tree is definitely breathing; little shallow breaths like it just shot up through the ground this morning"(Anderson 196). She's still in the early stages of recovery, but she's alive inside. After drawing crappy trees, kindergartener trees, and dead trees all year, she's finally alive and well.

power of the human voice
In Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, the mascot of Merryweather High kept changing. The students went with it until they were the “horny, horny Hornets!” The students spoke up and said they were proud of their Hornet selves after their voice was lost to the demands of others. When you think about it, Melinda used her drawings of trees to express her voice, and her trees reflected her thoughts and emotions.

Power of a Role Model
Even if you have an incredible drive to do something, it’s always easier to have someone to look up to. Mr. Freeman is sort of a positive role model for Melinda in discovering her identity through her drawings of trees. He guides her drawings and gives her ideas. Melinda uses her closet as an escape, but she also puts a poster of Maya Angelou on the mirror. She doesn’t really come in to play until Andy traps her in the closet. She becomes a role model. “Maya Angelou looks at me. She tells me to make some noise”(Anderson 194) She becomes an extremely positive role model.With the struggle of finding a good mascot for the school, Merryweather High is left without a role model until the students fight back to have the hornet be their mascot. Later, in the same closet scene with Andy, Melinda uses the school’s mascot as a good role model and strikes back like a hornet.
Everything is Connected...
Though we only mentioned a few of the symbols and themes, every symbol can be made to fit in every themes, though some better than others. For instance, one of the themes is "Escape" and one symbol is a mirror. The two don't seem to go together all that well until Melinda breaks the mirror in the closet and uses it as a weapon against Andy. Mirror also fits into "Identity" and "Coping with Depression."
SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson Symbolism and Themes
In Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, mascots are one of the important symbols used in the story. Mascots symbolize the search for identity and how they (the school) are struggling to find out what would really represent them. The power of the human voice really has to do with mascots because the student body is fighting for what they believe would be best for the entire school. “The Ecology Club has won round two. We are no longer the Tigers because the name shows “shocking disrespect” for an endangered creature”(Anderson 49), The Ecology Club’s fight for what they believe in shows that the power of the human voice can really be effective. Another way mascots show the power of the human voice is when the student body is choosing what mascot they want. Another way the mascots come into play is when the Student Council argues with the school board over keeping their mascot as the Hornets. The Student Council says,”We, the students of Merryweather High, have become proud of our Hornet selves. We are tenacious, stinging, clever. We are a hive, a community of students. Don’t take away our Hornetdom. We are hornets”(Anderson 141). Their struggle to find their identity has ceased, and they are proud of who they are and the decision they have made. This shows that mascots are a key factor in the story and that you have to search for who you are and fight for what you believe in.

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