Speak Questions and Answers
by Laurie Halse Anderson

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In Speak, how do the places where Melinda goes to avoid being "in school" benefit her (in her view)?

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Melinda seeks places that will allow her to be anonymous. She finds the old unused janitor's closet and makes it her hideout.  When she first enters it, she recognizes that no one has used it for years; so it is a place of safety and anonymity for her. As the school year progresses, the closet also allows Melinda to express her inner changes (through her display of trees and the items that she uses to decorate her space).

When Melinda actually skips school, she goes to the mall, the hospital, and eventually back to the scene of her rape. The first two locations provide safety in numbers while providing her with the opportunity to hide in public.  Specifically, the mall allows her to be somewhat physically close to her mom since her mom works there but does not require her to be emotionally close to her mom.The hospital provides her withsome solace because she knows that she needs help and thinks thatby being in a place that helps people she might glean some assistance. Both of these locations illustrate her silent cries for help.

Finally, by Melinda going back to the tree near where she was raped, she gains strength. She acknowledges what happened to her and how she has changed since the summer. After this visit, she relinquishes her anonymity.

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