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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1542

In Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, we can find important quotes by zeroing in on Melody's most important or most thematically relevant statements and revelations. Let's explore them in order.

In Chapter 1, here's a quote in which Melody beautifully explains her relationship to language, along with...

(The entire section contains 1542 words.)

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  • Themes
  • Characters
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In Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper, we can find important quotes by zeroing in on Melody's most important or most thematically relevant statements and revelations. Let's explore them in order.

In Chapter 1, here's a quote in which Melody beautifully explains her relationship to language, along with her longing to experience it, because she herself cannot speak:

Words have always swirled around me like snowflakes—each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.

She goes on to reveal, with stark matter-of-factness, her lack of ability to speak:

I have never spoken one single word. I am almost eleven years old.

In Chapter 2, here's Melody touching on an important theme in her story, the need to acknowledge people's humanity and individuality even if they are disabled:

Sometimes people never even ask my name, like it’s not important or something. It is. My name is Melody.

From Chapter 3, here's an important quote that shows what kind of man Melody's father is, and what kind of relationship they have:

“Your life is not going to be easy, little Melody,” he’d say quietly. “If I could switch places with you, I’d do it in a heartbeat. You know that, don’t you?”

I just blinked, but I got what he meant. Sometimes his face would be wet with tears.

Soon afterwards, Melody reveals the extent of her intelligence:

Here’s the thing: I’m ridiculously smart, and I’m pretty sure I have a photographic memory. It’s like I have a camera in my head, and if I see or hear something, I click it, and it stays.

She also explains how her frustrations with her disabilities tend to explode:

These things—I call them my “tornado explosions”— are pieces of me. All the stuff that does not work gets balled up and hyped up. I can’t stop, even though I want to, even though I know I’m freaking people out. I lose myself. It can get kinda ugly.

In Chapter 4, Melody reveals how she deals with both her advanced intelligence and her frustration with adults, again touching on the theme that we tend to treat those with disabilities as if they are not fully human:

I’m always amazed at how adults assume I can’t hear. They talk about me as if I’m invisible, figuring I’m too retarded to understand their conversation. I learn quite a bit this way.

And here's Melody's mother, touching on that same theme:

“I know the NAME of her condition, Doctor,” my mother said with ice in her voice. “But a person is so much more than the name of a diagnosis on a chart!”

She continues, addressing the definition of intelligence as the ability to adapt:

"All of us who have all our faculties intact are just plain blessed. Melody is able to figure out things, communicate, and manage in a world where nothing works right for her. She’s the one with the true intelligence!”

In Chapter 5, Melody gives an example of how people with disabilities express their humanity and interact meaningfully with others:

Even though she has trouble figuring out complicated stuff, Maria understands people and how they feel. “Why are you sad today, Melly-Belly?” she asked me one morning a couple of years ago. How could she have known that my goldfish had died the day before?

Toward the end of the chapter, Melody expresses how it feels to be intelligent yet unable to speak:

It’s like I live in a cage with no door and no key. And I have no way to tell someone how to get me out.

In Chapter 6, Melody recalls having to challenge herself physically, an example of her important struggle to increase her skills and strength:

But slowly, slowly, I felt my body rolling to the right. And then, unbelievably, plop! I was on my stomach. I was so proud of myself, I screeched.

Here, she confides in Mrs. V her eagerness to communicate:

Talk. I pointed to my board. I hit the word again and again. Talk. Talk. Talk. I have so much to say.

In Chapter 7, she's still expressing that same frustration, the same deep need to communicate, and this time, to learn:

I screamed because I hated stuff that was just plain stupid.

I screeched because I couldn’t talk and tell her to shut up!

And that made me cry because I’d never be able to tell anybody what I was really thinking.

In Chapter 8, Melody relates the story of the goldfish, Ollie, a very important story to the novel's themes. Recall that this goldfish is on the cover of the book--a sure sign that he's an important symbol for Melody and her feelings of imprisonment. Here's her description of Ollie after he leaped out of his bowl to his death:

I wondered if maybe Ollie wasn’t so happy after all. Maybe he was sick and tired of that bowl and that log and that circle. Maybe he just couldn’t take it anymore. I feel like that sometimes.

At the end of Chapter 8, while watching The Wizard of Oz, Melody reveals what she would wish for if she could have anything:

As I watched, I wondered if I were blown to Oz with my dog, what would we ask the wizard for? ... I’d like to sing like the Cowardly Lion and dance like the Tin Man. Neither one of them did those things very well, but that would be good enough for me.

In Chapter 11, Melody touches on the idea that some people will--and others won't--take the time to see her as a unique person:

But I had the feeling that Mrs. Lovelace was someone who’d take the time to figure me out.

In Chapter 13, here's Mrs. V. as she tells off a clueless girl, touching on themes of ability and disability:

“Some people get braces on their teeth. Some get braces on their legs. For others, braces won’t work, so they need wheelchairs and walkers and such. You’re a lucky girl that you only had messed-up teeth. Remember that.”

In Chapter 15, Melody's life takes a turn for the better as she gets her device that allows her to speak:

I type very carefully and push the button to make the machine speak.

“Hi, Dad. Hi, Mom. I am so happy.”

Mom gets all teary-eyed, and her nose gets red. She is looking at me all soft and gooey.

When I think about it, I realize I have never, ever said any words directly to my parents.

So I push a couple of buttons, and the machine speaks the words I’ve never been able to say.

“I love you.”

In Chapter 16, Rose touches on the theme of our basic human need for communication:

Rose is looking intently at me. “I can’t imagine what it must be like to have all my words stuck inside,” she finally says.

In Chapter 17, in her sassy way, Catherine comments on the nature of intelligence and physical disability:

“What your body looks like has nothing to do with how well your brain works! You ought to know that by looking in the mirror!”

At the end of Chapter 26, after having been swept up in the excitement of the competition, and even with the excitement of being able to express herself in words, Melody still experiences the difficult tedium of daily life:

They all had to wait for me and Mom. We took our time.

Push gently. Roll down. Bump. Top step.

Push gently. Roll down. Bump. Next step.

Push gently. Roll down. Bump. Third step.

Five bumps down to the bottom of the steps.

And I was still so hungry.

In Chapter 28, Melody describes how crushed she feels to be unable to travel to the competition and to have been ignored by her group members:

The morning started out like crystal, but the day has turned to broken glass.

In Chapter 30, as Melody reacts to the crisis of Penny being left alone, her frustration at being unable to communicate reaches a fever pitch, and we even see the title of the novel appear in her narration:

She smacked me on the leg. She’d never raised a hand to me before. Never. I still didn’t stop screaming and kicking and jerking. I had to tell her. I had to tell her that Penny was out there! Never had I wanted words more. I was going out of my mind.

Finally, as the last chapter opens (Chapter 33), Melody's musings touch on several important themes, including fitting in, understanding herself, and making sense of her world:

I guess I have ... about a million different layers of other stuff to deal with. Making people understand what I want. Worrying about what I look like. Fitting in. Will a boy ever like me? Maybe I’m not so different from everyone else after all.

It’s like somebody gave me a puzzle, but I don’t have the box with the picture on it. So I don’t know what the final thing is supposed to look like. I’m not even sure if I have all the pieces.

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