Speak

The main character of Speak doesn't speak. Watch this video to find out why.

American Literature20th-Century American Literature
All American Literature
AuthorAnderson - Laurie Halse Anderson
Early 20th-Century LiteratureEarly 20th-Century American Literature
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
LiteratureAmerican Literature

Transcript

00:29

Melinda Sordino is a fourteen-year-old entering high school with a terrible secret.

00:34

She doesn’t want to face what happened to her and believes that, if she doesn’t ever

00:37

talk about it, it will somehow disappear. But no matter how hard she tries . . .

00:43

. . . it doesn’t. In the end, she realizes that she has to break

00:48

her silence if she wants to have any hope of reclaiming her life.

00:52

Which brings us back to our question - why does silence hold such power in our social

00:57

lives? Remember when you were little and you threatened

01:01

to hold your breath until you turned blue? It got your mom’s attention, didn’t it?

01:07

Silence does the same thing; it gets our attention. It can make us feel awkward, like those folks

01:13

in the elevator . . . . . . or it can confuse us when we don’t

01:17

know how to respond. And nobody likes feeling incompetent.

01:21

Think about conversations you’ve had that stopped right in the middle for no good reason

01:27

at all. Didn’t you want to jump right in and fill that dead air as soon as possible?

01:30

We’re all so used to noise and stimuli in our lives, that we don’t know what to do

01:35

when it’s not there. And while some people can handle silence.

01:41

. . . . . many of us can’t.

01:42

Maybe that’s why solitary confinement and the “silent treatment” achieve some pretty

01:48

dramatic results. It’s not all that easy being alone with

01:51

our thoughts. So, if silence confuses us, makes us uncomfortable

01:56

and feels awkward, why do we need it at all? Well, there’s no doubt that a little quiet

02:03

time helps you figure stuff out. . . . . . and put things into perspective.

02:07

There are plenty of times when you just need a break from all the nonsense that’s bombarding

02:12

us 24/7 . . . . . . but, like Melinda, we all have to figure

02:15

out when we have to stand up and speak out . . .

02:17

. . . and when we need to sit down and just be quiet.

02:22

So why do you think silence holds such power in our lives?

02:28

Shmoop amongst yourselves.