Study Guide

Speak Guilt and Blame

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Guilt and Blame

Chapter 9
Melinda Sordino

I don't want to be cool. I want to grab her by the neck and shake her and scream at her to stop treating me like dirt. She didn't even bother to find out the truth – what kind of friend is that? (9.10)

Melinda blames Rachel for turning against her so easily, but she never really holds it against her. The other seven or so years they were friends is what Melinda dwells on.

Chapter 12

"My brother got arrested at that party. He got fired because of the arrest. I can't believe you did that. Asshole." (12.10)

It's true that people really did get in trouble when Melinda called the police. But they got in trouble because they get caught breaking the law. Nobody wants to take personal responsibility. Much easier to find someone to blame.

Chapter 24
Melinda Sordino

There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at my ribs. Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me. (24.4)

Shame seems to be a big part of why Melinda doesn't tell. She feels like the rape is alive in her, has somehow become part of her, like a punishment for making wrong choices like drinking beer and kissing a senior.

I want to confess everything, to hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else. (24.4)

Melinda is thinking of herself as a criminal here. It takes all school year for her to understand that she is instead the victim of Andy's criminal act.

Chapter 47
Melinda Sordino

BunnyRabbit bolts, leaving fast tracks in the snow. Getaway, getaway, getaway. Why didn't I run like this before when I was a one-piece talking girl? (47.14)

Melinda's blaming herself for not trying harder to escape Andy, or for not recognizing him as a violent predator. In a way, this is good because she's planning ways to escape him. The best way would be to report him, but she's not thinking along those lines.

Chapter 54
Mom and Dad (Melinda's Parents)

"She's jerking us around to get attention." (54.12)

Mom thinks Melinda is being deliberately difficult and asking for attention in a spoiled, immature way. Why do you think she rushes to this conclusion, instead of assuming something happened to Melinda to make her need extra attention?

Chapter 64
Melinda Sordino

"We have your location. Officers are on the way? Are you hurt? Are you being threatened" Someone grabbed the phone from my hands and listened. A scream – the cops were coming. […] Rachel's face so angry in mine. Someone slapped me. (64.18)

Melinda tries to report the rape, but the drunken, angry partiers stop her. It's horrible that nobody recognizes her distress, not even Rachel. She would have showed physical signs of Andy's attack for sure.

Chapter 76
Melinda Sordino

Was I raped? (76.3)

Whoa. It kinds of shocks us to hear Melinda ask the question. This is after Melinda dares to remember the details of that night. We didn't realize how much she blames herself for what happened.

Sally Jessy: "I want this boy held responsible. He is to blame for this attack. You do know it was an attack, don't you? It was not your fault." (76.5)

Luckily, Melinda has talk show hosts to help clear up her questions. Do you think daytime talk shows are helpful?

Chapter 84

There's more. Different pens, different handwriting, conversations between some writers, arrows to longer paragraphs. (84.9)

Melinda's anti-Andy graffiti gets a big response. This is the main way we, and Melinda and Ivy, learn that Andy's made a career of victimizing the girls at school. This helps Melinda understand that the rape isn't her fault.

Chapter 87
Andy Evans

"I never raped anybody. I don't have to. You wanted it just as bad as I did. But your feelings got hurt, so you start spreading lies, and now every girl in school is talking about me like I'm so kind of pervert. (87.8)

If Andy has said stuff like this to Melinda earlier in the school year, she might have believed it on some level. Now she knows better.

Chapter 89
Melinda Sordino

There is no avoiding it, no forgetting. No running away, or flying, or burying, or hiding. Andy Evans raped me in August when I was drunk and too young to know what was happening. It wasn't my fault. […] And I'm not going to let it kill me. I can grow. (89.9)

Melinda understands that while she's not responsible for being rape, she is responsible for taking control of her recovery from it.