Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak: Part 1, Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

Melinda’s parents scold her for her low grades and poor attitude. She imagines her mother as a psychotic Glenn Close, and her father as Arnold Schwarzenegger. She calls the entire conversation “performance art,” believing that her parents are only pretending to care about her for show. Although they threaten and cajole her, Melinda refuses to speak to them, instead excusing herself from the table. In their daughter’s absence, her parents begin attacking each other, as Melinda in her bedroom drowns them out with music.
As her parents yell at her, Melinda disengages completely. This passage clearly shows how incompetent Melinda’s parents are at dealing with her, but also how unwilling Melinda is to open up to her parents in any way. This dynamic is an incredibly dysfunctional one, and rises not just from Melinda’s depression, but also from her parents’ troubled relationship with each other.
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Communication versus Silence Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon