Speak

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Speak Part 4, Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Feeling empowered by standing up to Heather, planting marigolds, and asking her mother if she can redecorate her bedroom, Melinda attributes her newfound confidence to the spring weather. She decides to talk to Rachel.
Melinda’s planting is particularly significant here; as her plants grow, Melinda grows as well. Her request to redecorate her room, too, shows that she is beginning to grow up, and to communicate.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Finding Rachel in study hall, Melinda engages her in conversation; when Rachel reports that she’ll be going to France that summer, Melinda recalls that her former best friend has wanted to travel since they were little, and reminds her of when they pretended to be characters in the children’s book Heidi together. The two share a nervous laugh.
Although the conversation between Rachel and Melinda is strained, it also reveals just how much history the two girls share with each other. They haven’t spoken in months, yet are still bound together by memories.
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma 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 happily, until Melinda asks what the two will do when Andy goes to college, and notes that they’ve been going out a very short period of time. Rachel sharply asks her what she wants.
Melinda finds the courage to ask Rachel about Andy, yet still cannot bring herself to tell Rachel the truth. It is clear that Rachel is completely fooled by Andy’s charisma and good looks, and has no idea of what he is actually like.
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
After 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; Rachel says that she’s not angry at Melinda anymore, but adds that she shouldn’t have called the police. Melinda considers not telling Rachel anything, but then sees that her former friend has also written Andy’s initials on her own forearm.
As the girls move from one form of communication (speaking) to another (writing notes), Rachel begins to open up to Melinda. Although this makes Melinda miss their old friendship terribly, she knows that she can’t let Rachel continue her relationship with Andy without warning her. It is interesting that Rachel writes Andy’s initials on her forearm, a spot close to where Melinda has been cutting herself (which one might describe as a more extreme and negative form of marking herself in a way that references Andy).
Themes
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon
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Melinda writes a note explaining that she was raped at the party “under the trees”, adding that she “was stupid and drunk,” and 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 concerned, frantically asks Melinda (via note) if she is ok; “kinda,” Melinda responds. Finally, Rachel asks about the identity of the rapist; when Melinda replies that it was Andy Evans, Rachel responds with fury, yelling at Melinda that she’s a jealous, sick freak. Rachel storms out to go throw up in the nurse’s office.
This is the first time that Melinda tells someone that she was raped. Although Rachel at first responds in an ideal fashion, full of concern for Melinda’s welfare, she turns vicious and cruel when Melinda reveals that Andy was her rapist. Considering how difficult it was for Melinda to tell Rachel the truth, this is an incredibly discouraging way for the conversation to end. Unfortunately, many rape victims are met with skepticism and disbelief.
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