Mr. Neck furiously begins a rant against immigrants, whom he claims have kept his son from getting a job as a firefighter. As he fumes, Melinda doodles an apple tree, and thinks about the linoleum block that she is trying to carve in art class. She notes that when she carves, there is no way to correct mistakes.
Mr. Neck’s unprofessionalism reaches new heights as he expresses deeply racist views. Melinda is completely disengaged from this incompetent authority figure having decided—rightly—that much of what he says is worthless.
After Mr. Neck claims that “America should have closed her borders in 1900,” the class debates, until one student suggests that Mr. Neck’s son didn’t get the job because he didn’t deserve it. Mr. Neck reacts with fury and cuts off debate. Melinda continues to doodle the tree, calling her work “a cheap, cruddy drawing.” She is so intent on the tree that she fails to notice David Petrakis has stood up in the middle of class to protest Mr. Neck’s bigotry and bullying, calling the lesson “racist, intolerant, and xenophobic.” After Mr. Neck refuses to listen to him, David walks out of the room without saying a word. Melinda admires his silence.
As Melinda continues to doodle and daydream, a debate rages around her. When Mr. Neck forbids the students from communicating their views, however, David Petrakis steps in. In contrast to the silent and defensive Melinda, David is determined to stand up for what he believes. When Melinda doesn’t speak, it is because she is isolating herself. When David doesn’t speak, however, it is because he is fighting for his right to be heard.