What are Melinda's goals and motivations in "Speak"?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Melinda's goals are pretty simple - she wants to survive.  The story begins with the beginning of school, and Melinda's observations show the simplicity of her goal:

"It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate and a stomachache." (First Marking Period)

Melinda has not interest in being at school, but there is a clear sense that she knows she has to be.  She wants to get through the year, to survive and move on.  She has not allowed her rape to destroy her, but she has allowed it to control her, and all she wants to do keep surviving.

As the year progresses, though, Melinda's goals quickly begin to change.  She begins to want to take control of her life back, though she clearly is having trouble with that.  Her reaction to Rachel, who has withdrawn from her, shows this:

"I don't want to be cool. I want to grab her by the neck and shake her and scream at her to stop treating me like dirt. She didn't even bother to find out the truth-what kind of friend is that?" (First Marking Period)

It is the Fourth Marking Period that her forward movement becomes clear and her goal is achieved:

"IT happened. There is no avoiding it, no forgetting. No running away, or flying, or burying, or hiding. Andy Evans raped me in August when I was drunk and too young to know what was happening. It wasn't my fault. He hurt me. It wasn't my fault. And I'm not going to let it kill me. I can grow."

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