The Tree Motif In Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak

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Imagine going to school and getting looks of hate from everyone you used to know. In the novel, Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, the main character, Melinda must find her voice after a terrible situation changes her life. The author shows the reader how Melinda grows and changes throughout the novel using the tree motif. By examining the use of the tree motif at the beginning, middle, and end of the book, we’ll see how it symbolized Melinda’s character and her growth.

In the beginning of the novel, Melinda is all alone due to the incident that happened. She’s been suffering and dead inside. A short while after Mr. Freeman assigns the art project, Melinda’s been trying to draw trees but they always end up looking so dull. “I’ve been painting
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Melinda gains endurance and redemption in this part of the novel. In this part of the novel Melinda is trying to endure her pain. When she was cleaning her yard Melinda notices a tree down the street, “The wind rustles dead leaves still clinging to oak branches by the street” (Anderson 166). The dead leaves represent Melinda and how she’s struggling to not give up. She is still clinging to the little hope she has left. Another example of how Melinda can relate to trees, is when her dead points out a sick tree. “Dad: And that tree is sick. See how the branches on the left don’t have any buds?” (Anderson 167). Half of the tree is dead, just like Melinda. The buds represent that some part of Melinda has given up. Near the end of the novel melinda redeems herself. She soon realizes the rape is not her fault.”He’s not chopping it down. He’s saving it. Those branches were long dead from disease… By cutting off the damage, you make it possible for the tree to grow again” (Anderson 187). Melinda’s father says this to a passing child who asks why the tree branch is being chopped down. The branch symbolizes Melinda because she has a branch that is dead from a disease. She realizes that she needs to cut off those branches, no matter how painful, in order to grow again. Another example of redemption is when Melinda is finally able to complete her art project. “My tree is definitely breathing.. One of the lower branches is sick. If this tree really lives someplace, that branch better drop soon, so it doesn't kill the whole thing…” (Anderson 196). Her project went from looking dead to alive. The dead part of the branch represents her flaw. She talks about how the dead branch must drop in order to continue living, which is what Melinda does, she finally let’s

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