Laurie Halse Anderson

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Speak: Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Eight inches of snow have fallen in Syracuse, but Melinda does not have a snow day. Hairwoman reminisces about the energy crisis in the 70s, when school was closed for a whole week. Like many other teachers at Merryweather, she is sick with a midwinter cold that Melinda calls “teacherflu.”
The environment around Melinda is cold, dull, and depressing. Even her fellow teachers and students are feeling the pain of the Syracuse winter.
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As the class discusses snow’s symbolism in Hawthorne, Melinda mentally asserts that snow symbolizes “[c]old and silence.” She contemplates the fury of a blizzard compared to the calm of snow on the ground, which “hushes as still as my heart.”
The discussion of snow is appropriate, considering both the snow outside and Melinda’s internal frozen state. Her heart is “still” and silent because she continually represses her own memories and emotions.
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Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon