"Can the plural possessive express the feelings in your heart? If you don't learn art now, you will never learn to breathe!!!"
While Mr. Freeman often speaks in exaggerated terms, his early declaration that learning art is akin to learning how to breathe foreshadows the relief that Melinda finds in creating art. When triggered, Melinda often feels like she can't breathe. Her throat tightens and she has to remind herself to inhale. Finding something we love to do helps us process our emotions, so in the long run, the book argues, art is just as important as any other life skill. Mr. Freeman compares the grammar term "plural possessive" to creating art to show that there are some important life lessons that can't be learned in class for the purpose of getting a good grade.
"You are on fire, Melinda, I can see it in your eyes. You are caught up in the meaning, in the subjectivity of the effect of commercialism on this holiday. This is wonderful, wonderful! Be the bird. You are the bird. Sacrifice yourself to abandoned family values and canned yams."
When Melinda brings her cooked turkey bones to art class to create something, Mr. Freeman can tell that she is reaching a new place in her artistic journey. She is beginning to let her feelings guide her instead of her mind, even when her feelings don't make sense. After a miserable Thanksgiving, Melinda gathers up the charred bones to create something new that gets people's attention even though it's unconventional. A little later in this scene, Miranda surprises herself when she laughs, suggesting that the creative process is helping her to process her pain.
"You said we had to put emotion into our art. I don't know what that means. I don't know what I'm supposed to feel." My fingers fly up and cover my mouth. What am I doing?
Almost halfway through the book, Melinda speaks aloud without thinking about it because Mr. Freeman has shown her that she can trust him. Even Melinda is surprised at her outburst, as shown by her reaching up to cover her mouth. Mr. Freeman has brought out a truth that Melinda didn't realize herself. Melinda avoids her true feelings because they are too painful. She has been focusing on trying to figure out what she is "supposed to feel" but that won't work in art class. Melinda loves art class, but if she wants her work to be extraordinary, she needs to stop avoiding her painful memories and instead express them through her artwork.