In the book Speak, what causes Melinda to finally speak?

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Speak, a young adult novel, was written by Laurie Halse Anderson and published in 1999. It tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a fourteen-year-old high school student who is struggling with life and school after she was raped by Andy Evans, an upper freshman. Melinda hasn’t told anyone about...

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Speak, a young adult novel, was written by Laurie Halse Anderson and published in 1999. It tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a fourteen-year-old high school student who is struggling with life and school after she was raped by Andy Evans, an upper freshman. Melinda hasn’t told anyone about the rape, and this inability to talk about it manifests itself further with her only speaking when absolutely necessary. Once bright and happy, she is now depressed, withdrawn, and no longer takes care of herself. Her teachers and parents are frustrated with her, and she is bullied and isolated by her peers and former friends.

The story takes place over the course of a school year. Despite her lack of enthusiasm for sports and her classes, Melinda finds comfort in her art classes. Through the encouragement of her art teacher Mr. Freeman, Melinda starts to find her confidence and her voice again. And when Andy Evans attempts to rape her for the second time, she realizes she must speak out to stop him from doing this to anybody else.

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I don't think there is a singular event that causes Melinda to finally speak out against Andy. Melinda is a rape victim, and Andy is the boy that raped her; however, Melinda has been averse to speaking out about the assault and Andy. Nobody knows what happened to her. The book covers Melinda's entire school year, and it takes the entire year for her to gather up the courage and gain enough confidence in herself to talk about the rape. The book ends with Melinda telling Mr. Freeman her story. That might have happened even if Andy had not tried to rape her again in the closet. This time, Andy is caught, so Melinda has witnesses that now see what Andy is capable of—but I think her yelling out "No!" is a result of finding friends like Ivy that are also suspicious of Andy.

Prior to Andy's attempted closet assault, Melinda did "speak" out in written form in the bathroom. She wrote "Guys to Stay Away From" on the wall, and she listed Andy's name first. A bit after that, Melinda revisits the site of her rape, and we are told that she sees herself as a seed breaking through the dirt in order to grow toward the light. She's confronting her past and gaining confidence to speak out about what happened. Andy's second attempt was the final push.

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Melinda chooses to break her silence when Andy Evans attempts to rape her for a second time. The whole reason behind her silence in the first place was that Andy had raped her at a party the previous summer. She called the police after the attack and, not knowing why she had called them, her friends and classmates had all ostracized her for causing the party to end early.

Being attacked a second time had a cathartic effect on Melinda, and she finds her voice in order to scream and tell him no. Thanks to her screams, she and Andy are discovered by other students, and a second rape is prevented.

Melinda's art project, which has taken up a lot of her time during this difficult year, is returned with an A+. Her teacher teacher, Mr Freeman, comments that Melinda had gone through a lot that year. Her response was to open up for the first time and offer to tell him about it.

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Melinda finally uses her voice again near the end of the novel. When she returns to her secluded janitor's closet to retrieve some of her belongings, she is confronted by Andy. Andy accuses her of fabricating her claims that he sexually accosted her the previous summer. He believes she is jealous of the relationship he has with Rachel. When Andy attempts to assault Melinda again, she screams at him finding the courage to speak once again. At this point, Nicole and other members of the Lacrosse team hear her scream and come to Melinda's rescue.

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