In the novel Speak, Laurie Halse Anderson introduces the tale of Melinda Sordino launching her freshman year of high school concealing a dreadful secret. Melinda struggles throughout her school year withstanding a flashback and battling her lack of voice, frightened to share her secret. She was raped by Andy Evans, a popular senior, the summer before starting high school. Laurie Halse Anderson uses the motifs of mouth, lips, and trees to develop Melinda's character throughout the novel.
The motif of mouth is used to develop Melinda's character throughout the novel. It refers to Melinda's lack of communication to others. Many times in the novel, Melinda chose not to speak up for herself and let people mess around with her feelings. On the first day of school, Melinda says, "A guy behind me unwraps his breakfast and shoots the wrapper at the back of my head." Any normal person would say something to that person. Another time during the novel, a person says, "I can't believe you did that. Asshole." and yet again Melinda still refuses to speak up. Although there were several moments when Melinda didn't speak up, she finally did at the end of the novel. Talking to Rachel, Melinda says, "I didn't call the cops to break up the party I called them because some guy raped me. Under the trees. I didn't know what to do." For the first time in the novel she spoke up for herself.
Lips is another motif used to develop Melinda's character throughout the novel. The motif of lips refers to her intense anxiety. Times and times again Melinda gets overwhelmed over questions and literally doesn't know what to do. At the beginning of the novel, Rachel mouths silently "I hate you", and Melinda's reaction is "I bite my lip. I am not going to think about it. It was ugly, but it's over and I'm not going to think about it. My lip bleeds a little." She was acting extremely nervous or as is she was pressured.