Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak: Part 1, Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

The school day continues and Melinda describes the periods. She names her English teacher Hairwoman because of her ridiculously frizzy orange-and-black hair. Hairwoman wastes time taking attendance, and tells her class that they must write in English journals every day. Melinda uses her freewriting time to mock Hairwoman. In social studies, meanwhile, Melinda is stuck with the bullying Mr. Neck. She comments that the school social studies curriculum is the same every year (American history from the Native Americans on), and adds that although the class is always supposed “to get right up to the present,” they inevitably “get stuck in the Industrial Revolution.” As Mr. Neck is rude to her, Melinda wonders whether he is a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Melinda’s pattern of both alienation and perceptiveness continues. She mocks her teachers as a defense mechanism, but her comments are often astute and accurate. Although she is clearly intelligent, however, she has absolutely no interest in her classes. This apathy is a classic sign of depression; although Melinda is never formally diagnosed within the book, her behavior strongly implies that she is struggling with the mental disorder.
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Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon