Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak: Part 1, Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Melinda discusses biology class, which is taught by Ms. Keen, whom Melinda believes could have been a famous scientist instead of a high school teacher. Trying to pay attention after the previous night’s argument with her parents, Melinda notes that the class even gets to use real microscopes, rather than “plastic Kmart specials.” She also describes her lab partner, the brilliant David Petrakis, whom she comments will be “cute when the braces come off.” Melinda recounts David’s dismay when she almost breaks a microscope, and describes her classmates’ mockery of Ms. Keen’s clothes.
Biology is one of the few subject that Melinda finds interesting and worthwhile—a fact that will become increasingly significant once the class starts studying plants (an incredibly important symbol in Melinda’s narrative). David Petrakis, too, may start out as a stereotypically brilliant nerd, but reveals greater depths as the plot continues.
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