Mental Trauma In Speak By Laurie Halse Anderson
In Speak Laurie Halse Anderson creates a fictional character, Melinda Sordino who is struggling to tell her peers and parents about her biggest secret. Melinda is 14 and she is very sensitive and intelligent. Melinda is at a party the summer before her freshman year and she is raped by an older guy named Andy. Melinda calls Andy It in the book but what she didn’t know was Andy goes to her school. Melinda refuses to tell anyone about what happened to her and she is soon faced with reality as she chooses to go through the experience alone. Laurie Halse Anderson uses Melinda’s mental state, the control Andy has over her, and her finally speaking up to illustrate the effects of her trauma.
Throughout the book, Melinda deals with her imagination constantly tormenting her with images from the night she was raped causing her mental state to spiral out of control. This traumatic event leads to Melinda suffering from a Posttraumatic stress disorder. For instance, in the book Melinda works with David Petrakis on their lab project and her imagination takes her back to that night. “A scream starts in my gut- I can feel the cut, smell of the dirt, leaves in my hair”. Because of Melinda’s PTSD she pictures the dead frog laying there just like she had been the night of the incident. As an effect of her Posttraumatic stress disorder Melinda does everything she can to forget the memory. As the days go by Melinda starts to realize that she will never get rid of the horrible thoughts. PTSD causes a person to continue to relive the event but can also cause them to try to avoid the constant reminders of that event. Melinda knows that she won’t get over the situation if she is constantly reminded of them. “Even if I dump the memory, it will stay with me, staining me”. Everyday Melinda experiences a traumatized image from her past and she is convinced that if she tried to erase the memory, no matter what she does it will continue to pop back up in her head. “Melinda experiences periodic intrusion of the traumatic event into her consciousness”. Melinda’s mental state is shown as she skips school and steal a hospital gown just to sleep and she soon realize that something could be wrong with her. “I put the gown back. There is nothing wrong with me. These are really sick people, sick that you can see’. Melinda is swallowed by her thoughts and feels she is at peace when she is in the hospital but she realizes that the people in the hospital were really sick. This event causes an emotional effect on Melinda and forces her to go into a deep depression and suffer from PTSD.
Suffering from a traumatized event can leave a person in a distraught place but having to relive that moment as you look your attacker in the face is a different feeling. Melinda has to look her attacker in the eyes every day and think about the risks that come with being around her attacker. Melinda soon reveals that Andy Evans known as IT in the book is her attacker. A strong effect of Andy is the control he has over Melinda. Melinda is already dealing with PTSD and depression from the traumatized event and now she has to deal with losing her mind when Andy is near her. “IT found me again. I thought I could ignore IT. IT whispers to me, Fresh meat”. Not only is Melinda battling with her mental state and posttraumatic stress disorder, she has to fight the thoughts that are going through her head as Andy harass her. It can be seen that Melinda is vulnerable whenever Andy is around. Melinda finds herself having more flashbacks feeling as if everything will repeat itself and is terrified and in fear of what he will try in the future. “Is he going to hurt me again? Why am I so afraid?”. Andy knows the type of control he has over Melinda which is why he constantly tortures her just by doing absolutely nothing. Thinking back to that night, it forbids Melinda to have the backbone to challenge Andy. Everything about Andy triggers Melinda’s PTSD.
It takes time to speak up about something that has happened to you that has caused you lots of pain. Everyone has their own way of speaking up, so does Melinda. Throughout the book Melinda is dealing with having mental problems, having emotional breakdowns because she can’t seem to get rid of the terrifying thoughts and images that reminds her of that night. Melinda debates with herself, “I should probably tell someone, just tell someone. Get it over with. Let it out, blurt it out”. Melinda is finally starting to realize if she continues to hold it in, it is going to get really bad so she thinks of ways to express her feelings. Melinda constantly blames herself for what happened, she soon realizes that she is not at fault and she can better herself if she finds a way to speak up. ‘It wasn’t my fault. And I’m not going to let it kill me. I can grow’. Melinda has gained the strength she needs after seeing that Andy Evans has hurt others and wants to speak the truth before there be more. Melinda think it is time she lets Rachel about Andy which leads to him trying to attack her again but She has developed the strength needed to speak up and tell Andy Evans no. “By performing and transforming her trauma, Melinda succeeds in recovering her ability to speak the truth of her experience”. Melinda slowly regains her confidence, even though she sometimes still thinks back the traumatic event, admitting to herself that Andy Evans I the guy who raped her is a fresh start for Melinda, as her mental state improves. “I have survived. I am here. Confused, screwed up, but here”. Melinda is now looking at things as a reality but she now knows herself as a survivor and not a victim. Melinda has grown mentally and emotionally and no longer lets her PTSD affect her.
With the images flooding her memory Melinda is tormented causing her mental state to spiral out of control, letting Andy have full control over her until she finally speaks up. In the beginning of Speak, Melinda deals with images flooding her memory from that night. She remembers exactly who did it but she didn’t know that person was a student at her school. When Melinda realized he went to her school she went into a deep depression and suffering from PTSD. Her PTSD and depression allowed Andy to have full control over Melinda mentally and emotionally. She feared Andy Evans not only because of what he did to her but the control he had over her could make her get sick with only hearing his name. Melinda hated Andy had a strong effect on her, she even thought about speaking up but feared Andy would hurt her again. Melinda finally gained the strength she needed to speak up about Andy hurting her. She realized there could have been others and may be more if she doesn’t speak up. Even though the trauma Melinda experienced caused her to mentally breakdown and suffer from depression and PTSD, Melinda decided she wouldn’t let the situation hold her from letting the truth be known. Melinda uses her strength to find a way to express her feelings and seek help about the trauma she and others endured.
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