Identify thematic words from Speak.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The original question had to be edited.  I would suggest that there are some distinctive words used at different points in the novel that help to accentuate the novel's themes.  One of the most significant would be from the basketball game.  When Melinda is woken up with the chant of "Be Aggressive," it is almost as if she is being called out to demand her own voice.  In contrast to her feelings during the pep rally at the start of school, where Melinda screamed into her own hands and no one heard anything, now she hears the chant of "Be Aggressive" and is able to watch the end of the game.  Given the fact that the words appear in the Third Marking Period, it becomes significant that Melinda begins to somewhat internalize the words, "Be Aggressive."  From retreating into silence, she is slowly emerging and the words from the cheer help to convey that.

Another example of a thematic word from the text would have to be "IT."  Melinda's renaming of her rapist to an object is highly powerful and significant.  The use of the word "IT" has thematic implications.  Andy took away Melinda's voice that night.  In calling him an object, not even a name, Melinda seeks to reclaim some of that voice back.  She is not forlorn enough to be passive.  Rather, she is active in renaming her rapist as an object's name.  This, of course, ties into their final confrontation.  When Melinda says, "I said NO," it is a moment where she "speaks."  Her insistence on saying no is thematic because it is the penultimate reclamation of her voice. She is able to face her accuser and tell him what she feels she should have that night.  It is empowering and in her demand, words with thematic purpose are uttered.

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