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How does the symbol of a tree represent Melinda's growth and experiences? ~Speak(Speak...

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jb4life | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted November 30, 2010 at 12:23 PM via web

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How does the symbol of a tree represent Melinda's growth and experiences? ~Speak

(Speak by Lauie Halse Anderson)

I'm writting an essay and i know the basic things of the symbol of the tree but I need to get into the depth of it. Any help/ideas telling how it's a symbol or how it affects/shows growth of Melinda will be very helpful.

Thank you in advance :)


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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted November 30, 2010 at 8:09 PM (Answer #1)

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We can take the tree to represent a new form of growth, something that is pure and wholesome in a world that is far from it.  When Melinda goes back to the scene of the rape and wishes to replant herself in the dirt, it is a belief that the tree and the notion of being "reborn" or "replanted" can represent a new start, a new commencement.  This is certainly a part of Melinda's growth and her own rebirth.  The tree also represents the struggle to find oneself.  Just as Melinda struggles with drawing the trees, she struggles to find her voice.  Both processes involve frustration and do not come with a wealth of ease.  In this light, the tree is a symbol of that growth and strength that Melinda seeks to find in her own life following the rape.  When seeking to identify symbols that help Melinda understand what happened to her and the need to make sense of it, the tree becomes a type of towering symbol that provides structure to Melinda in a world devoid of it.

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted December 7, 2014 at 10:19 PM (Answer #2)

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Melinda Sordino is starting her freshman year at Merryweather High School. She is withdrawn and doesn't get along with her old friends anymore. Over the summer they had all been at a party, and she ended up calling the police, so now her friends shun her. She spends most of her time in the janitors closet. The only class she seems to enjoy is her art class. She picks a piece of paper out of a globe for her project, and she has to draw a tree.

Melinda thinks the project is too easy at first, but the more she tries to draw a tree, the more she sees that she can't. Melinda is hiding a dark secret. She won't talk to anyone about it, and the more her feelings overwhelm her, the more she draws trees. Trees represent life and death. They are a constant source of renewal. The symbol of the tree, is a symbol for Melinda, herself. She is having to come to terms with what happened to her. She is realizing that she has to talk about what happened.

"I don't know what I'm supposed to feel. My fingers fly up and cover my mouth. What am I doing?...When people don't express themselves, they all die one piece at a time." 

Melinda realizes that she is slowly dying on the inside. Once she comes to terms with her rape, she is truly in control of her life.

"Those branches were long dead from disease. All plants are like that. By cutting off the damage, you make it possible for the tree to grow again."

Melinda knows that the silence of the rape is the disease that is destroying her, so she finally speaks about the trauma. Once Melinda does this, the tree, which is really herself, can finally grow into the full beauty it is supposed to be.


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