Speak

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Rachel Bruin Character Analysis

Although she and Melinda used to be best friends, Rachel now hates Melinda, believing (like the other students at their high school) that Melinda called the police on a summer party in order to get others in trouble, when really she was attempting to report her own rape. A pretentious social climber, Rachel calls herself Rachelle for much of the book, and hangs out with foreign exchange students whom she perceives as cool. She eventually begins dating Andy Evans, Melinda’s rapist, at which point Melinda finally tells her former friend about the rape. Although she does not believe the story at first, Rachel eventually breaks up with Andy, an act that incites him to attempt to rape Melinda a second time. At the end of the novel, Rachel has reached out to Melinda, but it is unclear whether the two will become friends again.

Rachel Bruin Quotes in Speak

The Speak quotes below are all either spoken by Rachel Bruin or refer to Rachel Bruin. 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. 

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other Speak quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Part 3, Chapter 14 Quotes

I stumble from thornbush to thornbush— my mother and father who hate each other, Rachel who hates me, a school that gags on me like I’m a hairball. And Heather.
I just need to hang on long enough for my new skin to graft. Mr. Freeman thinks I need to find my feelings. How can I not find them? They are chewing me alive like an infestation of thoughts, shame, mistakes.

Related Characters: Melinda Sordino (speaker), Melinda’s mother, Melinda’s father, Heather, Mr. Freeman, Rachel Bruin
Related Symbols: Trees, Seeds, Plants, and Forests
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

In a moment of peak anguish, Melinda once again uses a botanical metaphor to express herself, thinking of all the obstacles and difficulties in her life as thornbushes ready to rip off her skin. Although it is frustrating to see Melinda remain silent and isolated, passages such as this help readers understand why she does so. To Melinda, everything in her life is hostile and sharp, ready to rip her to shreds. She does not feel safe with anyone, and so she can never release the terrible burden of her guilt and trauma. She is trying her best to heal from her sexual assault—to allow her "new skin to graft"—but everything in her life is making it more difficult to do so. 

This passage also makes clear Melinda's complicated relationship to emotion and appearances. Outwardly, Melinda is apathetic; she doesn't seem to care about school, friends, or life. Inwardly, however, Melinda is in constant torment, her guilt, shame, and regret eating her up inside. Given her inner pain, it makes sense that Melinda tries to remain as outwardly unfeeling as possible. If she ever lets out the powerful emotions inside of her, she is terrified of what will happen. 

Part 4, Chapter 5 Quotes

His lips move poison and she smiles and then she kisses him wet. Not a Girl Scout kiss. He gives her the notebook. His lips move. Lava spills out my ears. She is not any part of a pretend Rachelle-chick. I can only see third-grade Rachel who liked barbecue potato chips and who braided pink embroidery thread into my hair that I wore for months until my mom made me cut it out. I rest my forehead against the prickly stucco.

Related Characters: Melinda Sordino (speaker), Andy Evans, Rachel Bruin
Related Symbols: Lips
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

Melinda's worst nightmare comes true as her rapist, Andy Evans, begins dating her ex-best friend, Rachel Bruin. This passage offers an aching contrast between adulthood and childhood. In the present, Melinda sees a girl who has tormented her all year kissing the boy who violently raped her. Flashing back to the past, however, Melinda is unable to banish thoughts of her childhood with Rachel, or to stop remembering their lost innocence and former friendship. Her positive memories of Rachel are at war with her trauma surrounding Andy. 

Even at this point, though, Melinda is unable to speak. Completely at war with herself, she remains motionless, her impulse to protect herself in conflict with her desire to tell the truth and protect Rachel. 

Get the entire Speak LitChart as a printable PDF.
Speak.pdf.medium

Rachel Bruin Character Timeline in Speak

The timeline below shows where the character Rachel Bruin appears in Speak. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1, Chapter 1: Welcome to Merryweather High
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...be in a clique called the Plain Janes: Nicole the jock; Ivy the artist; and Rachel, Melinda’s former best friend (the fifth member of their group, Jessica, has moved to Nevada).... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 6: Home. Work.
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...to befriend her, while all her other former friends of the past nine years, especially Rachel, continue to ignore and even bully her. Melinda describes being bumped in the hallways, and... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...grade. She describes its rose decorations and pink walls, and recounts the different ways that Rachel, Ivy, Nicole, and Jessica decorated their rooms when they were in fifth grade. The only... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 9: Friends
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Melinda encounters Rachel in the bathroom, and scornfully describes how her former best friend has changed her name... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 18: Student Divided by Confusion Equals Algebra
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...her fake smiles. Mr. Stetman, however, forces Melinda to go up to the board with Rachel to do the problem. Melinda’s “head explodes” with the sound of sirens; she calls the... (full context)
Part 1, Chapter 19: Halloween
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...before—she describes buying wigs, trading clothes, and renting “black satin capes lined in red” with Rachel. In short, she comments, “We rocked.” The memory is a happy one, but ends on... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 4: Code Breaking
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
...engage the class in a conversation about the symbolism of glass within the novel, and Rachel (whom Melinda now calls Rachel/Rachelle) responds that she doesn’t believe in symbolism. To Hairwoman’s dismay,... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 14: Hall of Mirrors
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...“burned off,” or torn off by the “thornbushes” that are her fighting parents, the horrible Rachel, her repressive school, and the faithless Heather. She tells herself that she just needs to... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 16: Bologna Exile
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...wonders if they are laughing at her; imagines Heather fat and middle aged; and observes Rachel, who is wearing harem pants and a headscarf because she “is experimenting with Islam” sitting... (full context)
Part 3, Chapter 19: A Night to Remember
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...back to Kyle Rodgers’ end-of-the-summer party, a cool party for upperclassmen and cheerleaders into which Rachel had snuck Melinda and the rest of their friends by blackmailing her upperclassman older brother.... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...Andy undressed and raped her. Instead, she tried to imagine being back and safe at Rachel’s house as Andy hurt her, zipped up his jeans, and smiled. (full context)
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
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...from her, and screamed that the police were coming. Melinda’s memories become even hazier—she sees Rachel’s angry face, feels a slap on her face, and remembers crawling through a forest of... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 2: The Wet Season
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...calls him), meanwhile, has joined the International Club and has begun to hang out with Rachel and Greta-Ingrid. (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 5: My Life as a Spy
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
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Melinda is horrified to discover that Rachel and Greta-Ingrid have gone to the movies with Andy, and now are adoringly following him... (full context)
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
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Melinda follows Rachel and her friends to the foreign language wing, and watches as Andy flirts with Greta-Ingrid... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 6: Thin Atmosphere
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Retreating to her closet, Melinda works through her options, wondering how to warn Rachel away from Andy, and discarding option after option, fearing that no one will believe her... (full context)
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...home.” She imagines the poster of Maya Angelou telling her that she needs to help Rachel, even if her friend won’t listen. Finally, she disguises her handwriting and writes a note... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 11: The Beast Prowls
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...“repeating nightmare” from which she will never wake up. He asks her if she’s seen Rachel, but Melinda doesn’t respond. He walks towards her and sits on her drawing, smudging it.... (full context)
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Rachel comes in, saying that she’s been waiting for Andy outside. She wears a necklace with... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 19: Prom Preparation
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
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...about the ridiculous behavior surrounding Senior Prom, and reacts in disbelief when she hears the Rachel’s mom is letting her go to the prom with Andy. She decides that Rachel must... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 20: Communication 101
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...bedroom, Melinda attributes her newfound confidence to the spring weather. She decides to talk to Rachel. (full context)
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Finding Rachel in study hall, Melinda engages her in conversation; when Rachel reports that she’ll be going... (full context)
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Seeing the initials R.B. + A.E. (Rachel Bruin + Andy Evans) on Rachel’s notes, Melinda asks Rachel about the senior; Rachel responds... (full context)
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...being scolded by the librarian for talking, the two girls begin to pass notes, with Rachel “melt[ing]” and asking if Melinda likes anyone. The conversation moves on to Kyle Rodger’s party;... (full context)
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
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
...then “was just too scared” to speak to the police, even though she’d called them. Rachel asks why Melinda didn’t tell her, and Melinda reveals that nobody knows. Rachel, upset and... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 23: Prowling
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
After napping, Melinda takes the bike out at night, riding by Heather, Nicole, and Rachel’s houses. It is prom night, and she imagines Rachel’s parents waiting up for their daughter.... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 24: Postprom
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
...day because everyone hated her decorations so much. Melinda imagines that the Marthas are furious. Rachel, meanwhile, broke up with Andy in the middle of prom because he was groping her... (full context)
Part 4, Chapter 25: Prey
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
Andy accuses a horrified Melinda of lying to Rachel about having been raped. He tells her that she “wanted it,” and that she’s been... (full context)