Monday, November 12, 2007

Speak Journals

11/12/07-Describe your first day of high school. Do you remember what you wore? How did you get to school that day? Was there an opening day pep fest? What were your impressions and feelings? Please reference the first chapter: WELCOME TO MERRYWEATHER HIGH. Now that you’re a senior, review the list below (from p 5-6 and/or MORE LIES on p 148) and write your own list of lies about high school:

My first day of High School was similar to Melinda's but different in many different ways. Firstly I was lost confused and disorientated, but I had friends and knew where they were. I was bitter about being a freshman in high school, but not to the extent that she is. There was an opening day pep-fest as I recall, but I did not attend. To this day I don’t understand them, could be because I don’t have massive amounts of pep. It was easy to see the clicks and social trends. I felt disorientated but I didn’t let it ruin the day. I find it interesting looking back on my high school career and realizing that it was easy and a highlight. There weren’t many days I was really truly depressed at school. I guess the grass is always greener, and you don’t know how good you have it until you lose it. I think that a lot of what is on this list is biased to some extent.
“The first ten lies they tell you in high school:
1. We are here to help you. True but only if your a help to the administration
2. You'll have enough time to get to your classes before the bell rings. Easily true 8 min is enough, funny how I am usually tardy though
3. The dress code will be enforced. Lie, except for hats why I wonder?4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds
5. Our football team will win the championship this year. Haha Jefferson's football team sucks
6. We expect more of you here. True expectations are high7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with your needs in mind. True, but they fail to consider timeliness
9. Your locker combination is private. Who uses their locker?
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly.” True, I already do

I don’t have a list of lies, but I do know one truth from my own experience and from reading this book- High School is what you make it, you get what you put into it. It is what you make it. Go into it bitter it’s gonna be bitter back. Make it sweet and it will treat you nice. Griping and causing trouble with the administration is only gonna because you trouble. High School is what you make of it

Melinda has ambivalence and even spite for some of her teachers. How do you feel about your teachers at Jefferson? Can you find both positive and negative things? Write about a teacher who has affected your life in some way, either positively, or even negatively. (Please do not mention this teacher by name.)

I think that being a teacher is and can be a very stressful job. I work as an aid at a daycare center and I know how difficult it is dealing with kids. So dealing with kids that have free will and having issues with authority must be exceedingly difficult. This I think gives some reason to why some teachers are a bit crazy, or "bad teachers" this doesn't exclude all teachers though. Being crazy and depressed all the time like one teacher I had is a bad occupation choice. If you have issues dealing with kids don't be a teacher. It’s that simple. Most teachers understand this, so the majority of all teachers are either good or decent. One English teacher was really smart, but eccentric and a bit loony. Although he was very intelligent he was not that great at teaching. Another teacher that I had a Jefferson left the room for roughly 15 minutes every day and one time straight up left for the entire class period to buy a printer for a computer. Some other teachers are really patient which a great quality is. This one teacher lets the class have a lot of class time to do work despite the majority of the class is using them for personal, not educational

CODE BREAKING (p 100) is all about symbolism. What is that? Why does Mr. Freeman make Melinda draw a tree? “Tree. Tree? It's too easy. I learned how to draw a tree in the second grade…” (p 12). In many cultures it is accepted that images represent beliefs, groups, organizations and things. If you had to get a tattoo, what would you get? If you were able to symbolize your life with one picture, what would you choose? Choose an image (a symbol) to represent yourself. Post this image to your blog and give at least three reasons why you chose this picture

First of all i would get an anchor tattooed on my arm because then I could say I am holding it down! The page basically describes how symbolism works and how much Melinda dislikes it. She wishes that people would just say what they mean. It’s ironic how much symbolism is used by her and what she is saying. Say for instance the tree; in most cases trees represent growth and experience life and beauty. Its sort of a symbol of how much Melinda has grown as a person. In the novel she speaks as if she is much older than how old she actually is. The usage of the mascot and how it represents the class populous. Like the Trojan, which coincidently is the name of a condom was the representative of the school. A symbol of promiscuity? Its interesting that Melinda finds this symbol funny as well she jokes about it something a long the lines of "cheerleaders...pride of the Trojans" she sees the symbol and laughs about it cynically. I don’t know why but it would seem through the course of the novel that Melinda hates herself more than her peers, what with all the minor self-mutilation.
If I were to pick a symbol that would represent me it would probably be an anchor. Although mostly unseen it is the basis for keeping things grounded and essentially down to earth.

In Speak Melinda barely speaks. Why is this? What is finally revealed about Melinda’s experience at the party? (Use pages and descriptions from the text to support your answers.) How would you react if something similar happened to you? Looking back at your ideas of symbolism, explain her repeated use of the following images:
- Mirrors-Mirrors are usually used to express a reflection of one’s inner emotions. She uses the mirror to see beyond physical appearance and focus on her inner emotions.
- Seeds- Seeds usually are a representation for birth and the beginning of growth. I think that her using the seeds is an important metaphor for her recovering and growing.
- Rabbit- I think that the rabbit is a symbol of innocence. Bunnies in particular are associated with childhood. I think what happened to Melinda essentially stole her innocence. When Heather kicks the bunny aside in her room its like Heather is neglecting Melinda’s feelings. Heather wants to use her to make the prom d├ęcor, she refuses and Heather kicks the rabbit across the room.
- Lips-Usually lips are physical symbols of love and primarily affection. I think that the usage of lips is a symbol of something special that was tarnished after she was assaulted. She was raped and it is hard to establish a clear connection between love and assault, due to her physical abuse. I think the lips are again a symbol for something that was taken from her.
Melinda does not speak because she was raped at a party over the summer and called the police because she didn’t know what to do. She becomes silent because everyone knows that she called the police but not the reasons as to why. This is why no one that knows about the ordeal wants to associate with her. Also why she does not speak. She blames herself for the assault. If something like this were to happen to me I would probably act the same way. I would try to cover it up and disassociate with society and other people, clearly I wouldn’t be able to trust anyone.

Pages 141-165
Melinda has been spending a lot of time in the janitor’s closet-- cleaning it, decorating it, making it smell better. Why does she do this? Write about a place you like to go to be alone. Describe the place in vivid detail. Explain why you like this place. Does this solitude help you think or meditate or pray? Compare your place to Melinda’s closet.

I really don’t have a particular place that I go to, to collect myself. But I can relate to the concept of this “quiet place.” I walk to work everyday after school and then walk back home. This kind of gives me the same feeling. A time to connect with myself and reflect. The trees and the sunshine and the wind are all really nice. The walk there is uphill and the trees frame the road after the hill stops. When I walk home it usually signals the end of the work portion of the day. After this I can relax and put my feet up. Really, really nice. The reason why she decorates the room with such vigor is because of how important this room is to her. Looking at her perspective, she hates school and dislikes everyone there. It only makes sense that the one place in school she wants to go to is important to her. She wants to make this place even better almost to distract her from everything else. The more she feels comfortable in this place the better school will become.

Pages 165-198
Spring has come to Syracuse. What does spring mean within the context of the story? Use your knowledge of symbols and plot to explain the following things and how they are related:
Melinda cleans up the leaves in the yard.
I think that this is a great metaphor for her reconnecting and making amends with her parents after a year of distrust and disregard. By her raking up the leaves it’s like cleaning the slate. When her parents get home they are proud of the work Melinda has done and stop arguing. They become a near picture perfect family if only for that singular moment.
Melinda plays tennis in gym.
I think this has a lot to do with Melinda reconnecting with her old friend Nicole. Her competing with Nicole and participating on the same respect level is a great way to see eye to eye with her. Finally there is a way for Melinda to succeed where so many times she failed in gym class. She is proud to be on the same skill with Nicole and puts the two on the same level.
Melinda connects with Ivy in art class.
This I think is the way Melinda reconnects with another old friend, Ivy. Ivy, like many of her old friends hasn’t talked to her for the majority of the year. Ivy and her regain this connection and like with Nicole come to the same level. They essentially become friends again.
Melinda says she won’t help Heather with Prom.
I found this to be pretty interesting. Heather for a long time was a suck up to Melinda, and always wanted to be all friendly. Near the end of the story she basically wants to use Melinda to gain respect from the Marthas. When Melinda says no Heather flips and storms off. I think that this is a very strong turn for Melinda. She has had no one for the longest time except for this false friend Heather. Only when Melinda becomes happy with herself does she realize that she doesn’t need anyone else. She overcomes the needy Heather and respects herself to say no to her.

This entire closing chapter was one of the coolest endings to a book I think that I have ever read. The strong metaphors about finding, learning and being joyful with one ’s self are very entertaining. The closure of the whole thing was really cool. Everything was put back in the place it should be. I think that it was very symbolic that us as readers never know what happens to Andy. Melinda had gotten over it so she really didn’t care what happened to him. She found power in herself and stood up to him. She already has the closure she needs with the situation. It’s really cool that the author doesn’t bring it up I feel that it gives an even more pressing symbol to Melinda finding happiness within herself. It was a really good ending.