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Speak: Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors

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Speak: Smooth Seas Do Not Make Skillful Sailors

In the novel Speak, Melinda was raped at a party over the summer. Right after the sexual assault, she finds a phone that is in the kitchen. Melinda catches a glimpse of her reflection in it." Who was that girl? I had never seen her before. Tears oozed down my face, over my bruised lips, pooling on the headset" (page, 136). This is where Melinda started to avoid every mirror. She sees a reflection of someone ugly, someone who isn't her. Melinda's emotional torment has caused her to physically cut her lips so badly that a fellow student questions whether Melinda's "got a disease or something" (page, 45). Throughout the novel, Melinda picks at her cracked lips, causing them to bleed. Additionally, while working for her father on winter break, Melinda cuts her tongue on the edge of an envelope. Her injury is so bad that her dad "mentions a need for professional help" (page, 74). The ugliness of Melinda's mouth symbolizes the ugliness and shame she feels inside. Her swollen lips represent her inability to speak up about the rape.

Throughout the novel, Melinda lips continued to progressively get worse and so did her fear of mirrors. "Two- muddy-circle eyes under black-dash eyebrows, piggy-nose nostrils, and a chewed-up horror of a mouth" (page, 17). Not liking the person that she has become, especially on the outside, she begins by removing her mirror in her bedroom. "I get out of bed and take down the mirror. I put it in the back of my closet, facing the wall" (page, 17). At school, Melinda "moves into" a janitor's closet that is not being used. "The first thing to go is the mirror. It is screwed to the wall, so I cover it with a poster of Maya Angelou that the librarian gave me" (page, 50). She didn't recognize any part of her former, happy self; this caused her pain, when she looked in a mirror.

In the opening chapters of Speak, Melinda was afraid of seeing her reflection staring back at her, but it was the mirror that saves her in the end. After her friend Rachael, gets in a verbal altercation with Andy, Melinda's rapist at prom. Andy searched for Melinda at school for vengeance, he wanted to pay her back for tell Rachael about the rape. He finds Melinda in the janitor's closet. "Shards of glass slip down the wall and into the sink. IT pulls away from me, puzzled. I reach in and wrap my fingers around a triangle of glass. I hold it to Andy Evan's neck. His lips are paralyzed. He cannot speak. That's good enough" (page, 195). When Melinda is forced to confront Andy about the rape, her self-esteem, changes for the better. Then she finally speaks and is heard.

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