ERIC Number: EJ1043820
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Dec
Abstractor: As Provided
"Be the Tree": Classical Literature, Art Therapy, and Transcending Trauma in "Speak"
Children's Literature in Education, v45 n4 p298-309 Dec 2014
Laurie Halse Anderson's young adult novel "Speak" concerns the rape and subsequent silence of ninth grade protagonist Melinda Sordino. By relying on extensive literary allusions involving trees, rape, silence, and transformation, Anderson creates a young adult problem novel that is both of the moment and timeless in its themes. The intertextuality of tree imagery in "Speak" can be placed in conversation with the rape and subsequent silence of women in classical myth and Shakespeare's early tragedy "Titus Andronicus". Grounded in Ovidian imagery, "Speak" has the appeal of an updated adaptation of Ovid's "Metamorphoses": a girl is raped by the high school equivalent of a god. She changes from typical adolescent to a withdrawn teen suffering from selective mutism. Yet Anderson allows a second metamorphosis: her protagonist is able to transcend her trauma through art, unlike the tragic nymphs of old whose stories ended upon their violation and subsequent transformations. Anderson's imagery, deeply indebted to literature's past but speaking to psychotherapy's present, offers a distinct venue for readers to grapple with trauma and trees, and their long literary correlations.
Descriptors: Adolescent Literature, Novels, Trauma, Art Therapy, Classical Literature, Imagery, Rape, English Literature
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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