Why are the themes of secrecy and alienation/isolation in "Speak" significant?

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slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The title of the book is "Speak," yet Melinda is silent for most of the book. She keeps the secret of her rape and internally suffers from it. In some ways, her self-silencing stems from the fact that she did attempt to 'speak' when she dialed 911 from the party where she was attacked, resulting in the cops coming and shutting down the party, and all of her classmates angry at her for doing so (without knowing why). Her attempt to reach out for help did not work, so she withdraws within herself and alienates herself from her peers and her family. When her friend is in danger because she's dating the boy who raped Melinda, Melinda begins to find courage to speak out, and with help of new found friends through art class, she finds further support. In a climactic scene where Andy confronts Melinda, and she loudly and fervently speaks out against him, the spell of silence over her is broken.