Study Guide

Speak Transformation

By Laurie Halse Anderson


Chapter 4
Mr. Freeman

"This is where you can find your soul, if you dare. Where you can touch that part of you you've never dared look at before." (4.5)

The novel makes a running argument for the power of art to transform the artist and those who look at art.

Chapter 6
Melinda Sordino

Definitely not a dryad face. I can't stop biting my lips. It looks like a mouth that belongs to someone else, someone I don't even know. (6.10)

Dryads are female spirits of nature, who live in trees and are in charge of forests and groves. Melinda sees them as beautiful, unlike the way she sees herself now that her face has been transformed by her reaction to the trauma.

Chapter 9
Melinda Sordino

My contact folds in half under my eyelid. Tears well in my right eye. (9.9)

When you see someone having an issue with their eyes, glasses, or contacts in a book, it's probably a sign they are about to go through a metaphorical change in vision.

Chapter 11
Melinda Sordino

I steal a pad of Hairwoman's late passes. I feel much, much better. (11.7)

Stealing passes and skipping classes are things Melinda would never have considered doing a year ago. She does them now because she feels compelled to be alone with her problems.

Chapter 24
Melinda Sordino

It is getting harder to talk. My throat is always sore, my lips raw. When I wake up in the morning, my jaws are clenched so tight I have a headache. (24.3)

Melinda doesn't just decide to stop talking. She experiences real, physical symptoms of stress that stop her. She does decide to keep quiet, but some of it is out of her control.

Chapter 59
Melinda Sordino

Jeans that fit, that's a good start. I have to stay away from the closet, go to all my classes. I will make myself normal. Forget the rest of it. (59.8)

Melinda is deciding to take control of her transformation and guide it in a more positive direction. She'll be compelled to talk about the rape as part of it. Forgetting doesn't seem to be an option.

Chapter 77
Melinda Sordino

Me: "Can you buy me some seeds? Flower seeds?" (77.22)

Melinda finds lots of peace in the transformation of seeds to flowers and plants. Nature gives Melinda a model she can try to copy.

Chapter 85
Melinda Sordino

I dig my fingers into the dirt and squeeze. A small clean part of me waits to warm and burst through the surface. Some quiet Melindagirl I haven't seen in months. That is the seed I will care for<em>.</em> (85.13)

Melinda's at the spot where she was raped. She is able to use her knowledge of seeds growing to make peace with the spot. This seems important for her journey back to health.

Chapter 88

Kids stare at Andy, but nobody stops to talk. He follows Greta-Ingrid and Rachel down the hall. […] Greta-Ingrid spins around and tells Andy exactly what he should do with himself. (88.2)

Andy is changing in the eyes of the students at Merryweather High now that his crimes are becoming public knowledge instead of unconfirmed rumors.

Chapter 89
Melinda Sordino

The tears dissolve the last block of ice in my throat. I feel the frozen stillness melt down through the inside of me, dripping shards of ice that vanish in a puddle of sunlight on the stained floor. Words float up. (89.15)

Again we see tears as part of Melinda's process of transformation. In this scene, the tears are healing and the help open a space for Melinda to tell Mr. Freeman her story.