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by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak Chapter 18 Summary

Student Divided By Confusion Equals Algebra

  • Melinda comes to math class very, very late. Mr. Stetman is suspicious of her late pass.
  • She can't focus on algebra. She does fine with fractions, decimals, geometry, things she can see a use for. But, algebra leaves her cold.
  • Mr. Stetman is totally obsessed with algebra. It's his passion. He has gazillions of stories about the uses of algebra, but nobody can understand any of them.
  • The class is asked to "explain the wangdiddler's role in the negative hotchka theorem" (18.6).
  • Heather volunteers and is incorrect. Mr. Stetman asks Melinda to explain.
  • When she shakes her head "no," Mr. Stetman asks somebody to help her.
  • Rachel volunteers, and Melinda panics. She and Rachel are at the front of the class.
  • While Rachel does the problem, Melinda bites her bottom lip. She thinks, "If I try hard enough, maybe I can gobble myself whole this way" (18.9).
  • Suddenly, everybody is laughing at her, and she realizes it's time to go back to her seat.
  • Algebra, Melinda decides, is definitely not her cup of tea.

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