Study Guide

Speak Isolation

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Chapter 1
Melinda Sordino

I close my eyes, this is what I've been dreading. As we leave the last stop, I am the only person sitting alone. (1.3)

This sets the tone for Melinda's freshman year. She sits alone a lot. If the end of the novel is any indication, she'll be much less isolated next year.

I am outcast. (1.8)

Kids at Merryweather sure know how to hold grudges. Of course, not <em>all</em> the kids know that Melinda called the cops and got drunken partiers in trouble. Some of them have bigger things on their minds. But, Melinda sees it as everybody.

Chapter 6
Melinda Sordino

My room belongs to an alien. It is a postcard of who I was in the fifth grade. It is a demented phase when I thought that roses should cover everything and pink was a great color. (6.6)

It seems kind of symbolic that Melinda doesn't like pink anymore. Pink is an innocent, girlish color, and she doesn't feel innocent and girlish anymore. At first, she's totally isolated from the Melinda she was <em>before</em> the rape.

Chapter 15

"How can you say this? Why does everyone have that attitude? I don't understand any of this. If we want to be in the musical, then they should just let us. We could just stand on-stage or something if they don't like our singing. I hate high school." (15.5)

Heather is isolated by her new kid status. She's trying to break through into the Merryweather social scene in a thousand ways. We like the idea she has here. Sadly, the Marthas don't value good ideas. They just use and abuse Heather, increasing <em>her</em> isolation.

Chapter 16
Melinda Sordino

Deprived of Victim, Mom and Dad holler at each other. I turn up the music to drown out the noise. (16.9)

Melinda's parents' fighting isolates her from them. Part of why they are fighting is because they can see Melinda has a problem, but they have no clue what it is or how to help her.

Chapter 33
Melinda Sordino

How can I talk to them about that night? How can I start? (33.10)

Having a secret can feel really lonely. Have you ever felt like this? If so, what did you do? Were you able to find a way or not? Do you feel good about your choice? Why, or why not?

Chapter 51
Melinda Sordino

They swallow her whole and she never looks back at me. Not once. (51.21)

When Heather breaks off their friendship, Melinda feels a thousand times more isolated. Her thought here also shows that she sees the Marthas as carnivorous monsters who don't care about Heather.

Chapter 56
Mr. Freeman

"You're a good kid. I think you have a lot to say. I'd like to hear it." (56.16)

Mr. Freeman is the only one who offers to listen to Melinda. This does a lot to break through her isolation.

Chapter 73
Melinda Sordino

I guess I'll answer if [David] calls. But if he touches me I'll explode, so a date is out of the question. No touching. (73.14)

This thought reveals how much the rape is threatening to isolate Melinda from potentially excellent relationships and experiences. Since Melinda thought Andy was nice at first, and trusted him enough to be alone with him, she no longer trusts her ability to judge character.