Speak

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Speak Part 1, Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Although she wants to sleep during her Columbus Day vacation, Melinda instead goes over to Heather’s house, because Heather begged her and there’s “nothing on television anyway.” At the house, Heather’s mother asks Melinda to bring over more friends (Melinda mocks this request internally, commenting that Rachel would probably “slit my throat” on the “new carpet”). She notes Heather’s artificially perfect room, and wishes that her own bedroom reflected her personality. As Heather blathers about joining the musical and paints her nails, Melinda thinks about what a good actor she herself is, describing the expressions and actions she fakes every day, from a shy smile for teachers to an apathetic shrug for her parents to a false wave to imaginary friends when students point at and whisper about her.
Melinda’s decision to go over to Heather’s house signifies her conflicted feelings about her pseudo-friend; she constantly makes fun of Heather, yet also uses her in order to avoid feeling lonely. Meanwhile, Melinda is proud of her ability to fool authority figures, and does not seem to understand that her fake smiles are emblematic of her own inability to communicate. She continues to make no effort to connect with Heather, but holds on to their friendship because it keeps her from feeling pathetic. Yet even though she mocks Heather internally, she is jealous of her too, as emblemized by her envy over Heather’s bedroom.
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
After Melinda tells Heather that they cannot join the musical because “‘We are nobody,’” Heather begins to cry about how unfriendly and exclusive everyone is at Merryweather High. She accuses Melinda of being “‘no help,’” and calls her negative. She adds that Melinda only pretends not to care about people talking about her behind her back. Rather than comforting Heather, Melinda focuses on the fact that Heather has spilled green nail polish all over her brand new carpet, trying and failing to clean up the stain. Heather apologizes, chalking up her tears to PMS, and telling Melinda that she’s “‘the only person I can trust.’” When she sees the nail polish spill, however, she begins to cry once again. Melinda, unable to deal with Heather’s emotions, and nursing a terrible stomachache, leaves “without saying goodbye.”
Although Melinda usually considers Heather to be overly perky, energetic, and talkative, this passage makes clear that Heather too is feeling isolated and alone at Merryweather High. She may seem clueless, but she clearly understands that Melinda is incredibly unsatisfactory as a friend. Just as concerned with appearances as Melinda is, Heather quickly attempts to revert to her cheery demeanor, with mixed results. Melinda, meanwhile, has no idea how to deal with emotions that are not her own. It is as if her depression and her mysterious trauma are keeping her from feeling empathetic towards the lonely Heather.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon