Student Question

How does David assist Melinda in Speak?

Quick answer:

In Speak, David helps Melinda by being kind to her and encouraging her to speak her thoughts.

Expert Answers

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Overall, David Petrakis is a fairly minor character in the book; however, that does not diminish his impact on Melinda and her state of mind. Prior to the events of the story, Melinda was raped. Consequently her trust in people, especially men, is incredibly low. She is mentally and emotionally scarred, and Melinda fears the potential consequences of telling anybody about it.

Additionally, telling anybody about it would force her to relive the situation as well. Melinda has completely pulled back socially, and her former friends have also abandoned her out of anger. Melinda finds herself estranged by just about everybody in the book; however, there are a few key characters that see past Melinda's silent nature and bloody lips.

David Petrakis is one such character. Melinda and David are essentially forced to interact with each other because they are lab partners in biology class. Melinda lucked out with that pairing, because David is a brilliant student. In addition to being brilliant, David has principles and high moral standards. It's what leads him to speak out against Mr. Neck in social studies class. David supports Melinda's stances and silence, but he does also encourage her to speak up. He flatly tells Melinda that silence only makes a small difference and that it is speaking that will finally create changes. Deep down, Melinda knows this, but she is still terrified of doing it.

Don't get me wrong. I think what you did was kind of cool and getting stuck in MISS wasn't fair. But don't expect to make a difference unless you speak up for yourself.

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