The novel Speak is full of symbols, which is a bit ironic, considering how much Melinda's class dislikes discussing the symbolism of The Scarlet Letter in Hairwoman's class. Naturally, considering Speak's plot, most of these symbols are there to show how Melinda is overcoming the trauma of her rape as...
The novel Speak is full of symbols, which is a bit ironic, considering how much Melinda's class dislikes discussing the symbolism of The Scarlet Letter in Hairwoman's class. Naturally, considering Speak's plot, most of these symbols are there to show how Melinda is overcoming the trauma of her rape as the story progresses.
One example of this is Melinda's interest in seeds. Melinda first learns about seeds in biology, and ends up really enjoying studying them. As she studies, she explains how hard it is for seeds to germinate and grow, how much can go wrong. Her comment, "It's amazing anything survives" (pg 126), is it's own paragraph on the page, suggesting that she's talking about more than just seeds here. She also talks about the plant flowering: "people attack with scissors and cut off what's pretty" (pg 126). But she finished positive, saying, "If a rose is picked, the plant grows another one" (pg 126).
Later in the book, Melinda drives this comparison to herself home. After visiting the location of her rape, she makes a conscious decision to move on, saying,
"A small, clean part of me waits to warm and burst through the surface. Some quiet Melindagirl I haven't seen in months. That is the seed I will care for" (pg 188-9).
Another related symbol for renewal is the change in the seasons. Several things happen when spring comes: Melinda admits to herself that she was raped and that is wasn't her fault, stands up to Heather, and restarts her friendship with Ivy. As Melinda puts it, "Too much sun after a Syracuse winter does strange things to your head, makes you feel strong, even if you aren't" (pg 180). The plot accelerates most in this part of the book, and readers can see Melinda's actions and her perception of herself change too. She tells Rachel/Rachelle about the rape here and nearly beats Nicole in tennis. It's clear that Melinda has chosen to fight the depression and PTSD that have been suffocating her since the attack and clear that she is trying to get her life back. Just as the earth seems reborn after winter during spring, so too does Melinda.