How should I analyze this passage from Speak?

I'm writing a report on Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, and I've decided to center it around an analysis of the following passage:

I know my head isn't screwed on straight. I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy. I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs. Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me. My closet is a good thing, a quiet place that helps me hold these thoughts inside my head where no one can hear them.

I thought that it was a great paragraph that describes Melinda's withdrawal from the world and her current wish to isolate herself from everyone else. But is there more to it?

Expert Answers

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I definitely agree that the chosen passage is a great passage that viscerally shows the turmoil that is happening within Melinda. The quote does a great job of showing the pain that she is in, the desire to withdraw from everything, and the desire to speak out and tell someone about her emotional pain and what caused it.

To answer your final question about whether or not there is more to it, I would say yes, there is more to it; however, I don't think that you need to worry yourself about searching the text for something beyond the initial set up that you have already given yourself. The Enotes prompt says that you want to write a paper, and you desire it to be based around the provided quote. I think you have a great starting position and handle on Melinda based on that single quote.

Your next task is to compose a thesis that gives your paper direction and will allow the incorporation of that quote as supporting evidence at some point. I would recommend something like the following thesis statement: "Although Melinda desires to hide away herself and her feelings, she also deeply desires to speak out and share her emotional turmoil with somebody." The quote supports this thesis, and the text is filled with other instances of supporting examples that show Melinda's inner conflict about how to tell the world about the danger that is Andy.

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"I know my head isn't screwed on straight. [This sentence may imply that she is capable of self-criticism, that she is self-reflective] I want to leave, transfer, warp myself to another galaxy. [This sentence seems to imply that she is imaginative and also emphatic in the way she expresses herself.] I want to confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. [This sentence seems to support both of the previous comments.] There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs. [Once again, she seems imaginative, creative, and attracted to metaphorical language.] Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me. [This sentence shows how attuned she is to the sound-effects of her language. Notice how she uses both alliteration and assonance here.] My closet is a good thing, a quiet place that helps me hold these thoughts inside my head where no one can hear them.” [This sentence, like much of the rest of this passage, suggests that she often uses language that is simple, clear, and straightforward.]

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