Speak

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Speak Part 2, Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Melinda reports that Heather has gotten a job as a model at a local department store (though Melinda believes that Heather’s father may have gotten the job for her). The Marthas, meanwhile, are impressed.
As is typical for her, Melinda is cynical about Heather’s good luck. Always the outsider, she also notices how much Heather’s modeling helps her social status.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Melinda accompanies Heather to a bathing suit shoot, and Heather’s mother asks whether she too wants to be a model. Embarrassed by her scabbed mouth, Melinda does not answer (Heather, meanwhile, tells her mother that Melinda is “‘too shy’”), but admits to herself that she does want to be a model. She wants to put on gold eye shadow, look like “a sexy alien,” and be seen as untouchable.
Heather’s modeling rekindles Melinda’s shame over her own appearance. Her fantasy about being a model, meanwhile, signals her hatred of herself, and her wish to be someone else. It also symbolizes her wish to be powerful and “untouchable” instead of powerless and vulnerable.
Themes
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
Reflecting that she likes food too much to model, Melinda scoffs at Heather’s obsessive dieting. She watches as Heather attempts to model a swimsuit in a freezing cold building (and reflects that the goose-bumped Heather looks a lot like the Sordino family’s Thanksgiving turkey), and as a photographer creepily commands her to act sexily. Melinda comments that her throat is sore, and reports that although she has not bought golden eye shadow, she did buy black and red nail polish called Black Death to match her bloody, bitten nails. Next, she sarcastically decides, she will buy a shirt in “tubercular gray.”
In contrast to Heather’s apparently model-worthy looks, Melinda finds herself disgusting. She doesn’t believe that she even deserves gold eye shadow, and instead decides to buy nail polish that will act as a physical manifestation of how damaged she is.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon