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Junk drawers are simple contraptions that contain many miscellaneous objects with many different uses, shapes, and sizes. They are also a symbol for representing the human mind in this case. Someone from the outside looking into someone else’s junk drawer may never truly understand why things are in there, past their physical uses. Each individual aspect of the junk drawer can represent a different part of someone’s personality.
Melinda is a broken girl and the items in her drawer represent that. She has paper in her drawer which represents how she was before she became a broken girl. Paper is smooth and flat, but can take many different shapes depending on how someone folds or crumples it. Though once it is folded or crumpled the mark will forever remain on the paper and will never go away. The paper in the drawer represents her old self before she was raped because the paper does not have any marks on it. One of the items Melinda took out of her drawer is a crumpled piece of paper, in an attempt to deny that the rape even happened or portray it as something else. The lit candle in her junk drawer also represents Melinda in a similar way. The candle actually represents 2 things. The wax on the candle represents Melinda’s old personality still clinging on to life. The fire that is melting the wax represents the incident where she was raped, eating away at her. Once the fire reaches the bottom and there is no more wax for it to melt Melinda will snap. Perhaps Speak would be about a school shooting rather than a rape if the fire were to reach the bottom.
The food that Melinda contains in her drawer represents her need to tell someone about what happened. There are varying fruits because she does not care who she tells, she just has to tell someone. The makeup and mirrors in her drawer both represent the same thing, but in slightly different ways. The makeup represents the façade she puts on for those around her in an attempt to signal to some that something is wrong and to others that everything is ok. The mirrors, on the other hand, represent the different personas she makes for herself. Each mirror represents a different persona such as the gloom and doom side of her. The mirrors could represent a number of different personality types that would directly relate to Melinda. The makeup helps to even make herself believe that these different personas represent her true self. When in reality her true self is hiding in the back of her mind scared to come out because of the incident at the party. The last thing she removed from her drawer is a flashlight. The flashlight represents her inability to let someone know about the incident at the party. A flashlight is used to find things that are hidden in the dark, and without it she would not be able to “shine light” on the incident that happened at the party. She took it out because she made the decision to not speak and without the flashlight she can’s show anyone what happened.
Junk drawers are marvelous contraptions that can accurately portray the human psyche. It is through careful examination that one can analyze and understand the true meaning behind the supposedly random items in someone’s junk drawer. Melinda will forever remain a broken girl according to the items in her drawer and of her actions in the book. Melinda’s junk drawer will remain full of junk and they might even lose their meaning to Melinda and to the people on the “outside looking in”.
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