Speak

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Speak Part 3, Chapter 10 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After having her absences reported, Melinda and her parents have a meeting with Principal Principal, as well as the guidance counselor. Her mother holds back curse words as her father checks his beeper. Melinda, meanwhile, drinks water; she imagines that her cup is made out of lead, and wishes that she could eat it, poisoning herself. As Melinda refuses to talk, her parents berate her, and Principal Principal attempts to find out what is wrong (although not before getting her name wrong). Her mother accuses her of acting mute to get attention, and Melinda scoffs at the idea that her mother would ever listen to or believe the truth.
The authority figures in Melinda’s life continue to be completely oblivious to her trauma and her depression. Her parents act rudely towards each other and the guidance counselor; Principal Principal does not even know who she is; and the guidance counselor is simply incompetent. Melinda feels disdain for all of them, and is even more convinced that she can never tell them what is truly wrong with her.
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
Melinda’s father recalls the “sweet, loving little girl” who Melinda was “last year,” and threatens Principal Principal. As her mother snaps at him, the guidance counselor asks if the two have marital issues, and they both respond furiously.
Once again, the novel emphasizes how much Melinda has changed over the past year. Rather than attempting to find out what is truly wrong, however, Melinda’s parents attempt to blame everyone but themselves.
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
Melinda imagines her parents and the guidance counselor performing a song-and-dance routine about her. She giggles, and her parents immediately snap at her. The guidance counselor mentions that Melinda is friends with the Marthas and Principal Principal (who has been doodling a hornet) reacts positively, asking Melinda if these girls are her friends. Melinda is in disbelief: “Do they choose to be so dense? Were they born that way? I have no friends. I have nothing. I say nothing. I am nothing,” she thinks.
As she usually does during stressful and upsetting situations, Melinda disengages completely, pretending that a musical is taking place in front of her. The adults, meanwhile, continue to miscommunicate, and to completely miss the clear signs of Melinda’s isolation and depression. Melinda’s wish to be invisible reaches its peak: she now believes that she is nothing.
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon