Speak

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Speak Part 1, Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Melinda next discusses algebra, to which she arrives quite late (with the help of a forged late pass). As she ignores her teacher, Mr. Stetman, she imagines various disasters striking her school. Although she used to be good at math, testing at the top of her class, Melinda refuses to put effort into learning algebra, despite Mr. Stetman’s great passion for it. She recalls how motivated and driven she used to be, but essentially decides that there’s no point in trying to learn algebra.
In algebra, Melinda once again recalls how smart and motivated she used to be—she also reveals that she used to excel as a student, a fact that only makes her new apathy more disturbing and uncharacteristic.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
When Mr. Stetman calls on Melinda, she tries not to answer, using one of 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 event “a real disaster.” As Melinda mentally mocks her former best friend’s clothes (even while she criticizes her own, calling them “Dumpster togs” and realizing that she needs to wash her hair), Rachel glares at her, before doing the problem on the board. Melinda bites her lip and imagines eating herself alive, forgetting that she is supposed to sit down. The class laughs at her.
This moment is a nightmare for Melinda—not only must she stand in front of a room of peers who hate her, but she must do so with Rachel, who has betrayed her more than anyone else. Melinda’s upset and discomfort transform, however, into self-hatred. Her wish for invisibility becomes even more disturbing, as she imagines eating herself alive, a thought that reveals just how deep Melinda’s self loathing goes.
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon