The act of speaking out creates the difference between a depressed person and an
optimistic socialized person. In the novel Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, learning how to
speak out is the main theme; the protagonist Melinda learns how to speak out about what
happened to her during the summer. The act of speaking out is also exemplified through various
methods by characters like David Petrakis, Melinda’s lab partner, and Mr. Freeman Melinda’s
Art teacher. David Petrakis argues with Mr. Neck, the social studies teacher, and expresses his
ideas and beliefs; he even uses his silence at the end of the argument to speak out. Mr. Freeman
also speaks out, but using different methods. He uses his ...view middle of the document...
Furthermore, he accuses Mr. Neck of racism,
intolerance, and xenophobia. At the end David picks up his books and walks out of the class.
After that situation Melinda says, “He says a million things without saying a word. I make a note
to study David Petrakis” (57). David’s courage allows him to gain his self-respect, his class
mates respect represented by Melinda, and even Mr. Neck’s respect because he finds someone
brave enough to argue with him. This also proves that the act of speaking out does not always
depend on speaking only and that a moment of silence or an action taken in the correct time can
also express a person’s feeling. This act of speaking out is also one of the factors that affects
Melinda and encourages her to speak out. Halse Anderson uses the static character David
Petrakis to exemplify the type of high school students who are social, hardworking, brave and
powerful. Although the author did not include any details of David’s physical strength, it is
obvious from his action that he is a strong and powerful person, not necessary physically strong
but he is physically and emotionally strong because he knows how to speak out and express
himself. Therefore, the character David Petrakis is one of the characters that the author uses to
emphasize the importance of speaking out and expressing oneself.
Another character that the author uses to concentrate on the idea of speaking out is Mr.
Freeman, Melinda’s art teacher. Mr. Freeman’s name by itself is symbolic of freedom. The word
freedom can refer to many types of freedom; in this case the author uses it to convey the freedom
of speech and expressing a person’s feelings. Mr. Freeman is also inspired Melinda’s speaking
out as he starts making her understand that he feels the pain she feels, and tries to give her
someone to hear her. Apart from that Mr. Freeman also exemplifies speaking out and the reason
he encourages Melinda to speak out is knowledge of the importance of speaking out. The author
emphasizes the idea of a different teacher who speaks out even if his opinions are against the
school board. Mr. Freeman speaking out is expressed in many situations, the first is when he
complains about the school board cutting his supply budget in front of his students as he says,
“They did not have a school board forcing them to paint with both hands tied behind their
backs”(31). The author uses this idiom to reveal the relation between Mr. Freeman and the
members of the school board and introduce the conflict between them. Another method that Mr.
Freeman uses to speak out against the school board is his art. Mr. Freeman’s great painting
contains figures similar to some of the school board members. This reveals how the relation
between Mr. Freeman and the school board affect him because in art a person’s soul is
responsible for the result. Although Mr. Freeman’s painting is a master piece, he slices it with
Melinda’s chisel as the school board argues with him because he gave out...