Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak: Part 1, Chapter 19 Summary & Analysis

On Halloween, having been told by her parents that she is too old to trick-or-treat (she doesn’t want to in any case), Melinda retreats to her bedroom. As she watches the trick-or-treaters, and listens to her parents’ squabbling, she remembers dressing up as witches with her friends the year before—she describes buying wigs, trading clothes, and renting “black satin capes lined in red” with Rachel. In short, she comments, “We rocked.” The memory is a happy one, but ends on a disturbing note: at midnight, the girls lit a candle and held a candle to a mirror to see their futures. Melinda, however, couldn’t see anything. Meanwhile, this year, Rachel will be going to an exchange student party. In the present, Melinda decides to spend the night reading Dracula.
Halloween is yet another emblem of childhood for Melinda. She remembers last year’s holiday not only because she was with her friends, but because she felt innocent, free, and powerful—in contrast to how damaged and powerless she feels now. As always, however, Melinda finds darkness within a happy memory, recalling her inability to see her own future. This recollection has deep significance: Melinda believes that she has no real future, but instead is doomed to stay frozen, traumatized, and isolated for the rest of her life.
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Family and Friendship Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon
Memory and Trauma Theme Icon