Explain at least 5 events that are significant to the characterization of Mr. Neck.

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In the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, an interesting character is illustrated in the social studies/MISS teacher Mr. Neck.

Mr. Neck is one of the first people to speak to Melinda on opening day of freshman year, and the conversation is not a friendly one. Melinda's description of him illustrates...

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In the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, an interesting character is illustrated in the social studies/MISS teacher Mr. Neck.

Mr. Neck is one of the first people to speak to Melinda on opening day of freshman year, and the conversation is not a friendly one. Melinda's description of him illustrates her discomfort around him, "A predator approaches: gray jock buzz cut, whistle around his neck thicker than his head. Probably a social studies teacher, hired to coach a blood sport," (5). Though her initial impression of him is stereotypical, it's not very far off the mark.

As Melinda's day continues, she realizes that Mr. Neck is, in fact, her social studies teacher, and it's not a happy realization. "My social studies teacher is Mr. Neck, the same guy who growled at me to sit down in the auditorium. He remembers me fondly. 'I got my eye on you. Front row," (7). She muses that he may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, further highlighting the fact that he had not made a favorable impression on her.

After Melinda has food thrown at her in the cafeteria, she runs out of the room in humiliation and in search of solace. Instead, she runs into Mr. Neck again, and he is very unsympathetic to her plight. "I knew you were trouble the first time I saw you...No more warnings. You just earned a demerit for wandering the halls without a pass," (9). His continued run-ins with Melinda illustrate Mr. Neck's character as a person with little patience and a short fuse. This is further exemplified in the mini-chapter "First Amendment," (53).

Mr. Neck is angry because his son did not get a job that he'd applied for. As a result, he opens a "debate" in class related to immigration. It is a touchy subject, and many students weigh in on the topic; however, once a student challenges Mr. Neck directly, he ends the debate: "You watch your mouth, mister. You are talking about my son. I don't want to hear anymore from you. That's enough debate-get your books out," (55). His behavior in this scene colors him as a small-minded racist, and David Petrakis won't put up with it. David protests the discussion on the grounds that it is "racist, intolerant, and xenophobic," (56). This only furthers Mr. Neck's anger and fuels David's case.

When David begins audio-taping class lessons, Mr. Neck is clearly irate, but instead of saying anything about it, he teaches the class carefully with prepared notes and a smooth voice (67). However, as Melinda points out, "The tape will not be able to pick up the angry gleam in Mr. Neck's eyes, though. He glares at David the whole time he's speaking," (68).

Mr. Neck's surly attitude is clear in these examples. Melinda named him right!

 

 

 

 

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