Melinda is enraged that Mr. Neck is forcing her to read her report just to bully her, and asks David Petrakis to help her come up with a plan. When she is supposed to speak her speech, she instead reveals a note she’s written on the blackboard saying that just as the suffragettes fought for the right to speak, she is fighting for the right to “stay silent.” David, meanwhile, hands out copies of Melinda’s report to the whole class. A furious Mr. Neck gives Melinda a D, and she ends up back in MISS, sarcastically reflecting that she “forgot about how the suffragettes were hauled off to jail.”
Melinda’s silent protest is one of the first moments in which Melinda actually dares to stand up for herself. Although she does not speak, she does fight back against the bullying, unfair Mr. Neck. This protest also solidifies her connection with David, who appears to be a true and genuine friend. Although she is punished for her bravery, Melinda continues to identify with the suffragettes.
In MISS, still furious, Melinda wonders why adults presume to know what is going on inside of her. She describes her internal state as, “Flashes of lightning, children crying…squirming under the weight of doubt, guilt. Fear.” She is grateful that at least Andy is not present this time.
More than ever, Melinda feels misunderstood and victimized by all the adults in her life. Her description of her internal state is a disturbing one, but an incredibly vivid portrait of a mind struggling with depression, trauma, and anxiety.