How do Melinda's relationships change from the beginning of the book to the end?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that one of the primary ways in which Melinda's relationships change over the course of the novel is in her refusal to be bullied into total submission.  She is able to withstand the brute nature of Mr. Neck and is able to understand the full implications of her voice.  Her relationship with David matures over time, as she begins to understand more about him and herself over the course of the novel.  This is an important point to note in the advancement of her relationships within the trajectory of the narrative. Melinda's relationships with others fundamentally change because the relationship that she has with her own sense of identity changes.  She recognizes that the rape is not something to internalize to the point of self- negation. The desire to replant herself, to invest in the tree project, as well as to add "IT's" name to the bathroom wall and warn Rachel of what is in store for her are all examples of how her relationships with others change because the relationship she has with her own sense of self changes.  It is here where I think that Melinda is able to see her relationships with others throughout the novel change.  The relationship that she develops with herself is one of change and through this greater change with others results. It is for this reason that she is able to tell Mr. Freeman about what happened.  The idea of "Let me tell you about it" is a reflection of how her relationships with others have changed because the relationship she has with herself has changed.