Readers view texts in perspective, to enable them to understand the books they are reading. Gender roles have been prevalent in our communities for centuries now and they are unfortunately still common; in today's society. The novel Speak , by Laurie Halse Anderson paints a vivid image on gender roles; in today's society. Anderson's work is appreciable at using characters to portray the modern day relationship between men and women. Characters are the central point in the novel and are the personality in the book. Characters are also helpful in developing the themes of the text. Themes are used in stories as a central topic, in the storyline. In the novel Speak, there are many recurring themes such as: mental health, communication, sexual abuse and violence, to name a few topics of discussion. In order for the reader to fully understand and relate to such themes, symbols are introduced analytically. Objects represent a theory or idea. The text focuses on many dark themes and symbols, such as; trees and blood are manipulated to understand these themes. Another method that is often applied by authors, to allow the reader to grasp what the characters are going through and feeling is imagery. An image is a picturesque creation. The author appropriates descriptive or figurative language, to create mental images. Discriminating lenses are helpful to view texts in different viewpoints. The lens that was chosen for the novel is the feminist lens. Feminist literary criticism views literature to see how the culture, economy, politics, and society in the text oppress women . Anderson communicates the power that men hold over women through the characters, themes, symbols and imagery in relation to the Feminist Lens. .
In the novel Speak characters play a critical role in helping the reader see the gender roles in the book. For instance, when Melinda begins to feel guilty about Andy Evans raping her. Melinda thinks, "There is a beast in my gut, I can hear it scraping away at the inside of my ribs.