Speaking While Growing: Symbolism of Trees in Speak
In the novel Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson the author explores the symbolism of a tree to the way Melinda is living her life. The main character; Melinda Sordino, broke an end-of-summer party by calling the cops, and almost everyone in the school hates her for this act. At the party she was raped by an older boy, and she is too scared to speak up and tell someone. Melinda is so desperate to hide from the world that she turns an old janitors closet into her own private get away. She withdraws herself from her friends and chooses not to speak up, and tell people that she has been raped. She has lost all interest in her schoolwork besides art. In this class she excels throughout the year creating trees in all shapes and forms. She begins to lose all her friends, similar to the way a tree loses its leaves. The symbol of trees highlights her life in the story. The tree in front of her house is trimmed so it could grow; this symbolized how Melinda had to cut out the bad memories and to move on from being raped.
Trees first appear in, Speak when Melinda is receiving her art project for the year, symbolizing the growth of her life and what had happened to her. Melinda is in the middle of her first day of high school and her old happy self is now gone; until she reaches her art class. When Melinda first received her art project: “‘Trees’ Tree? It’s too easy. I learned how to draw a tree in second grade,” (Anderson 12). Melinda feels as if the task she has been given is too simple. At this point in the story Melinda is not ready yet to open up to friends, parents, or even her teachers. She is not ready to start something new when she has not even admitted to her self that she has been raped. In this part of the novel, the trees express Melinda’s flawed efforts to open up and to understand what has happened to her life.
When Melinda is assigned a tree to draw...