Study Guide

Speak Chapter 27

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Chapter 27

First Amendment

  • Mr. Neck comes into class angry. He writes the word "IMMIGRATION" on the board. He says that the Neck family has been in the US for 200 years, but his son can't get a job because there are too many immigrants.
  • Apparently, Mr. Neck's son didn't get the fire fighter job he applied for, because of "reverse discrimination" (27.7).
  • Mr. Neck announces that there will be a debate in class today. The topic: "America should have closed her borders in 1900" (27.9).
  • Some of the students whose families came to the US after 1900 raise their hands to argue against Mr. Neck's statement. Melinda isn't sure where her parents' families are from.
  • The debate gets heavy, split into pro- and anti-immigration factions.
  • One particularly courageous kid tells Mr. Neck that maybe his son didn't get the job because he wasn't good enough. The brave kid says he believes "the white people who have been here for two hundred years are the ones pulling the country down. They don't know how to work. They've had it too easy" (27.12).
  • Mr. Neck basically tells that kid to shut up, and then he stops the debate.
  • Melinda continues trying to draw a tree. She's concentrating hard when she notices that David Petrakis, the guy she partners with in biology lab, is standing.
  • David is the most well behaved kid in the world, so Melinda can't understand why he's about to get himself in big trouble.
  • David tells Mr. Neck that he can't stop the debate because some students don't agree with him.
  • Mr. Neck says he can so, and he tells David to sit down.
  • David says, "The Constitution does not recognize different classes of citizenship based on time spent living in the country. […] As a student, I am protesting the tone of this lesson as racist, intolerant and xenophobic" (27.22).
  • (In case you don't know, "xenophobia" is "an unreasonable fear of foreigners.")
  • Mr. Neck tells David to sit down. He says he can't believe David is trying to "turn it into a race thing" (27.23) and threatens to send David to the principal.
  • David gives Mr. Neck a hard look, then walks out of the classroom.