What are three ways the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson shows empowerment? 

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hannahhunt09 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One way the book Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson shows empowerment is through Melinda's dependence on herself, rather than others. Through the first section of the book, the "First Marking Period," she remains quiet about what others are doing to her even when it gets her in trouble, but she does begin to excel in art, finding empowerment in expressing herself through various mediums, rather than using other people.

During the second marking period, Melinda begins to stay after school to work on homework and try to get her own grades up. She continues to find a passion in her art, which her parents start to recognize. She also discovers that she is great at basketball, especially foul shots.

In the third marking period,  Melinda starts to struggle with her art and loses her only friend, Heather. She must finally find empowerment through coming to terms with what has happened to her, and the reader hears about the sexual assault.

In the last section of the book, the fourth marking period, Melinda takes control of her studies, doing an extra credit project on the suffragettes. Melinda decides, after this project, that she was actually raped and that it was not her fault, and that she should not be punished for it. She makes friends with Ivy, revisits the site of the assault, and writes the rapist's name on a bathroom stall, where dozens of other girls write that he has attacked them as well. Andy tries to attack her again, but she fights him off with her art project and a shard of glass. Others hear and go get help. Finally, the secret is out about Andy, and people no longer hate Melinda. She tells her art teacher, the first adult, and the book ends with the reader thinking that maybe something will finally be done.

In summary, the empowerment in this book is first self-dependence, then discovering inner talents, then learning to be honest with herself and the world.

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Speak

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