Speak

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David Petrakis Character Analysis

Like Ivy, David Petrakis becomes an ally of Melinda’s, after beginning the year as her biology lab partner. Generally considered a genius, David is also a principled and moral person, qualities that he displays when he protests Mr. Neck’s racist and bigoted remarks about immigrants. David acts in a friendly way towards Melinda, and may even show romantic interest in her, despite her hesitance and mistrust around people, particularly men. He also helps her to join in his fight against Mr. Neck by silently protesting the tyrannical teacher in front of the whole class, although he tells her that she needs to speak out for what she believes.

David Petrakis Quotes in Speak

The Speak quotes below are all either spoken by David Petrakis or refer to David Petrakis. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Coming of Age Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Farrar Strauss Giroux edition of Speak published in 2011.
Part 3, Chapter 8 Quotes

I rock, thumping my head against the cinder-block wall. A half-forgotten holiday has unveiled every knife that sticks inside me, every cut. No Rachel, no Heather, not even a silly, geeky boy who would like the inside girl I think I am.

Related Characters: Melinda Sordino (speaker), Heather, Rachel Bruin, David Petrakis
Related Symbols: Melinda’s Closet , Blood
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:

After a disastrous Valentine's Day, Melinda crumbles inside her closet. Through most of her narrative, Melinda acts as if she doesn't care about the opinions of her peers. This passage, however, makes clear how false that attitude actually is. While she may pretend to be hardened and cynical, Melinda in fact feels "cut" every time that someone rejects or mocks her. Rather than being apathetic, Melinda actually cares far too much. An intelligent and emotionally attuned person, she tries to protect herself from the world with hostility, but is unable to do so.

It is interesting, too, that Melinda calls herself "the inside girl I think I am." Always aware of the differences between interior and exterior, Melinda understands that she is far more sensitive and observant than she lets on. Her idea of herself is different from the face she shows to the world; yet even as she hides this softer side of herself, she is desperate for someone else to access it. 

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David Petrakis Character Timeline in Speak

The timeline below shows where the character David Petrakis appears in Speak. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 17: Blue Roses
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...real microscopes, rather than “plastic Kmart specials.” She also describes her lab partner, the brilliant David Petrakis, whom she comments will be “cute when the braces come off.” Melinda recounts David’s... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 5: First Amendment
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
...cheap, cruddy drawing.” She is so intent on the tree that she fails to notice David Petrakis has stood up in the middle of class to protest Mr. Neck’s bigotry and... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 8: Peeled and Cored
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...class, Melinda is studying fruit. The students are instructed to dissect an apple, and while David Petrakis dissects his specimen perfectly next to her, the smell causes Melinda to flash back... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 9: First Amendment, Second Verse
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
A week away from winter break, the students are rebellious, and David Petrakis is fighting for his freedom of speech in Mr. Neck’s social studies class. As... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
...Petrakises’ lawyer has threatened to sue the school district and Mr. Neck. The next day, David has also set up a video camera in the back of the class in order... (full context)
Part 2, Chapter 16: Dead Frogs
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Melinda’s biology class with Ms. Keene is scheduled for a frog dissection, and David Petrakis is thrilled (he is considering becoming a doctor). Melinda is nauseated by the smell,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 8: Cutting Out Hearts
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...a prank; then she worries that it’s from Andy; last, she wonders if it’s from David Petrakis. Unable to even open the envelope because she’s so confused and nervous, she walks... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...Ms. Keen teaches a class about the literal birds and bees, Melinda frantically wonders whether David has sent her the card. She chews her thumbnail so hard that she begins bleeding.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Melinda writes a note that says “‘Thanks!’” to David. “‘You are welcome,’” he writes back. It is unclear if these notes refer to the... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 18: Stupid Stupid
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...be a part of the community, Melinda dawdles at the door until she’s spotted by David Petrakis, who invites her to accompany him and his friends to his house for pizza. (full context)
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...however, with a voice she calls Melinda Two, that the world is unsafe, and that David could have been trying to lure her to his house. Hating the feeling of being... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2: The Wet Season
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...that the seniors are about to find out their college acceptances and rejections, and that David Petrakis is writing a computer program to track the results, so that he can analyze... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 4: Genetics
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...she considers moving in there “full-time.” She realizes that her leaves look good—“Ivy was right.” David, meanwhile, is drawing a family tree; Melinda decides to draw a family stump. She comments... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 8: Gag Order
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
David Petrakis’s lawyer has prevailed over Mr. Neck, which means that David has begun to take... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 9: No Justice, No Peace
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...Mr. Neck is forcing her to read her report just to bully her, and asks David Petrakis to help her come up with a plan. When she is supposed to speak... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 10: Advice from a Smart Mouth
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Melinda tells David Petrakis that Mr. Neck gave her a D on her report. He comments that her... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
David awkwardly flirts with Melinda, saying that he might call her; Melinda appears receptive, telling him... (full context)