Representations of Female Identity in Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak Presented by: Courtney Hockett / firstname.lastname@example.org Mentor: Dr. Susan Cannata Department of English, Theatre and Foreign Languages University of North Carolina at Pembroke Abstract: I learned of the novel Speak in Dr. Cannata’s Principles of Literary Study class Spring 2014.While reading the story I found it to be something that all young females can relate to because of the awkward transition from middle to high school and the emotional and physical struggles that are faced. Throughout my research I will explore what it means to be a feminist and find information on gender roles and expectations that are placed on young high school girls and how they correlate with the novel. At the end of the novel the main character , Melinda, has an epiphany and finally speaks out after remaining silent for months. Melinda had struggled with the fact that she had been raped prior to entering high school and at the end when her attacker tries to strike again she finally gets up the courage to yell out for help. Even though she finally speaks out, Melinda and her friends follow the gender roles and expectations currently placed on pre-teens today. Three Main Supporting Ideas: • Melinda’s parents are dissatisfied with their marriage but choose to suffer through and continue to stay together because they are trying to fulfill the marriage role that is expected and placed upon couples. • When transitioning from middle to high school Melinda’s previous best friends begin to change and conform to stereotypical looks that they feel will enable them to become accepted in specific cliques that are present at their school • Not only are the females, but the male characters (student and teacher) Anderson created are depicted as stereotypical men because of the way the dress, talk, and the manner in which they present themselves. “My family has a good system. We communicate through notes on the counter.” (p 14) “She puts a candy cigarette between her lips. Rachelle wants to desperately smoke […].” (p 20) “A predator approaches: gray jock buzz cut, whistle around a neck thicker than his head. Probably a social studies teacher, hired to coach a blood sport.” (p 52) Works Cited: Anderson, Laurie H. Speak. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1999. Print.