2 Symbolismsymbol is something that represents something else, either by association or by resemblance.It can be a material object or a written sign used to represent something invisible.In writing, symbolism is the use of a word, a phrase, or a description, which represents a deeper meaning than the words themselves. This kind of extension of meaning can transform the written word into a very powerful instrument.
3 Trees Represents life and growth In the beginning of the story, Melinda struggles to have her artwork of the tree, “come to life.”Her artwork represents her feelings, in the end she is able to bring her trees to life once she has let out her secret.Melinda can finally express that her “tree is definitely breathing.”She acknowledges that trees, like people, aren’t perfect. “one of the lower branches is sick… that branch better drop soon so it doesn’t kill the whole thing.”We know she is “growing stronger” when she says, “new growth is the best part.”
4 Janitor’s ClosetRepresents a sanctuary for Melinda, like art class. It is her own space.Her artwork is posted, representing her true self. The closet is more defined than her bedroom.The cracked mirror represents the broken image of herself.She places a Maya Angelou poster over the mirror. Angelou was an outcast like Melinda, also raped and did not speak about it until much older. Angelou is now a powerful, and confident writer. Angelou gives her strength when she can’t look at herself.
5 MirrorsEver since she was raped, Melinda cannot bear to look at herself in the mirror. It represents her inability to find herself.She didn’t recognize her old self: confident and happy. She needed time to develop who she was. She says she is a “horror” and it represents her low self esteem.In the end, when she starts to gain her confidence back, it becomes a representation of strength and hope.Melinda breaks through the poster covering the mirror in the janitor’s closet when Andy attacks her; this represents her control and start of a new life.
6 Change in MascotsPortrays Melinda’s difficulty in finding herself and her lack of confidence.The school mascot changes constantly making it difficult for Melinda to find her identity in a place that doesn’t have one.When the student body vote on a mascot and win, the principal changes it to what they want without listening or asking the student body. It shows they don’t care about the students thoughts and ideas. Like Melinda’s parents only looking at her grades, not the reason why her grades are so low.
7 Mouth/LipsThe scabbed and bleeding lips of Melinda represent her inability to speak and the pain it causes her as a result.She cuts her mouth on the edge of an envelope, creating an injury where her father mentions a “need for professional help.”The ugliness she sees when she looks at her lips and mouth represent the ugliness and shame she feels inside, keeping the secret of her rape.The Barbie head on the Turkey Bone sculpture had tape over its mouth, representing Melinda and her refusal to speak out about what happened to her.
8 Names Melinda means pretty in Spanish. The kids ridicule her and call her Me-no-linda. She agrees with them, showing her poor self image and esteem.Sordino, Melinda’s last name, means mute in Italian. It represents her inability to speak, she stands silent.
9 FrogMelinda connects the dissection of the frog, the pinning of the arms and legs, to her tragic experience that summer.It reminds her of that night and what IT did to her.“…I can feel the cut, smell the dirt, leaves in my hair.
10 Melinda’s Bedroom“My room was stuck in the middle, a bit stolen from everyone else… I don’t know what I want it to look like anyways.”In the beginning of the novel, it shows Melinda’s inability to determine her identity and difficulty separating from the past.Towards the end, when Heather makes suggestions for changing her room, Melinda takes a stand against her. It shows her confidence is returning.When Melinda discusses changing her room with her mother, the mother seems pleased as if she has seen a change in Melinda as well.
11 ThemeA theme is a recurring message throughout a piece of a literary work.It is the main message or idea that the author is sending to his or her audience.
12 Themes in the novel Alienation/Isolation Depression Search for IdentitySilenceSearch for ConfidenceSecretsCommunicationFamily LifeStrength of CharacterFriendship