Laurie Halse Anderson

Teachers and parents! Our Teacher Edition on Speak makes teaching easy.

Speak: Part 4, Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Upset by a cheer that goes, “The horny, horny hornets,” the PTA is trying to eradicate the hornet as the school mascot. The Honor Society, meanwhile, attempts to save the hornet, arguing that the students have suffered “psychological harm” because of the “year’s lack of identity.” Melinda reacts with apathy.
The subplot of the mascot continues, as the unruly students of Merryweather begin fighting to keep their hornet identity. Melinda, occupied with far more serious concerns, finds their passion ridiculous. The way in which the Honor society so freely throws around ideas of “psychological harm” suggests how mental illness is often treated as a joke, even as Melinda’s actual mental trauma goes unrecognized by all around her.
Appearance versus Reality Theme Icon
Isolation, Loneliness, and Depression Theme Icon