Based on how he is presented in the narrative, discuss opinions about Mr. Neck. 

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In many respects, Melinda's experiences with Mr. Neck help to confirm the idea that many of the social elements in high school experienced as an adolescent find their way when people become older.  Mr. Neck represents that dominant social strain that truly does not wish for people "to speak."   Based on how he is presented in the narrative, I think that his role is significant.  Melinda's struggle to speak could be dismissed as purely "high school angst" or mere adolescence.  Yet, in seeing the silencing of voices that is such a part of Mr. Neck's teaching and being, one realizes that Melinda's fight to speak has larger implications.  In challenging Mr. Neck and seeking to do so on an academic ground, Melinda makes clear that that the struggle to be heard and to validated one's voice is about as old as American History.  Melinda's struggle and her fight is the same fight that the suffragettes faced, the topic of her report.  It is the same fights that immigrants faced and do face.  Melinda's fight is more than merely high school.  It is more than pep rallies and decorating for dances.  It is a struggle for her soul, one that is elevated to this level because of Mr. Neck's presence.  His description in the novel is one in which it becomes clear that Melinda's fight is an existential one, rooted in the nature of being that transcends high school temporality.