Study Guide

Speak Chapter 4

By Laurie Halse Anderson

Chapter 4


  • After lunch comes art class. Syracuse, New York isn't the sunniest place, so the art room has lots of windows to let in whatever light there is.
  • The radio is on and the room is comfortably messy. The teacher is Mr. Freeman. He isn't good looking, but he's smiling.
  • The narrator sees Ivy, but Ivy doesn't look at her.
  • Mr. Freeman tells the students: "This is where you can find your soul if you dare. Where you can touch a part of you that you've never dared look at before" (4.5).
  • He spends some time arguing that art is more important than the other subjects they are learning.
  • He shows the class a broken globe; his daughter Jenny put her foot through it. Mr. Freeman is inspired by the broken globe. He sees it has endless possibilities as art, now that it's broken.
  • Mr. Freeman explains that there are pieces of paper in the globe. Each student is supposed to take a piece. He says, "On the paper you will find one word, the name of an object. […] You will spend the rest of the year learning how to turn that object into art" (4.11).
  • The narrator can't believe how good the assignment sounds – too good to be schoolwork. The paper she chooses says "tree."
  • She doesn't think a tree is much of a challenge and tries to trade.
  • Mr. Freeman doesn't let her. He says, "You just chose your destiny, you can't change that" (4.12).
  • Next, he gives everybody a piece of clay. With the clay they will begin their new artistic experience.