In Speak, are we sometimes different people on the outside than we are on the inside?  Why do you think this true about people? What characters from the novel fit this description? 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The work shows that there are times in which people are different on the outside than they appear to be on the inside.  Part of this results in the "masks" that have to be worn on the outside in order to appease the world.  The world of high school is shown to be one in which this masquerade is needed in order to maintain social viability.  The perception of "being happy" and "having it all" compels individuals to have to display different images on the outside than what they are experiencing within.  Melinda is enduring such pain and difficulty that she simply loses the ability to mask her pain, but the image she still puts on the outside belies what is happening within.

Melinda is one example of someone who embodies the duality of what is within and what is shown on the outside.  When her peers call her ugly and label her with terrible and derisive names, it denies the fact that she is experiencing a level of psychological trauma over being assaulted.  Andy appears to be the ideal "catch" on the outside.  On the inside, he is a sexual predator and a sadist who enjoys assaulting women.  Rachel/ Rachelle is different on the outside in her attempts to assimilate and find acceptance in high school.  Yet, Melinda sees someone within that is still a good person and the friend with whom she endured "Brownies."  In these instances, one sees that there is a difference between what human beings are on the outside and their internal essence. The way to resolve this internal schism is in our power to "speak," which must reflect what exists within.