Summary: Third Marking Period, Part 2 (Picasso – My Report Card)
Mr. Freeman recognizes Melinda’s struggle, and tells her that her imagination is paralyzed. He introduces her to the art of Picasso. She opens a book of Picasso’s art, and once she gets past the chapters obsessed with naked women, his genius takes her breath away. His art draws her in, his cubism forcing her to see beyond what’s visible at the surface. She wishes she could have known him, they’d have been friends, she’s sure of it. Revitalized, she begins to draw. Mr. Freeman looks on, approvingly.
Summary: Riding Shotgun
Melinda is meeting the expectations set for her: attend class, do the work. Her mother suggests new clothes as a reward, but since her mom doesn’t have time to go with her, she’ll go on her own. While standing at the bus stop, a blizzard rips through the town. Mr. Freeman pulls up in his car and offers her a ride which she accepts. He compliments her recent art work, and Melinda laments that her trees aren’t working out. She doesn’t know what it means to put her emotions into her art. They talk, and Mr. Freeman shares his philosophy and insights about it. When he drops her off at the mall, he tells her that, if she ever needs to talk, he is there. He tells Melinda that he thinks she is a good kid who has a lot to say, and that he’d like to hear what she has to say.
Summary: Hall of Mirrors
Melinda is shopping for jeans on her own. In the dressing room, she looks at herself in the mirror and wonders if she’s really inside the image before her. She peers at her bleeding, crusted lips, and wonders what it would be like to walk in new skin. Her feelings, she realizes, are chewing her alive.
In biology, the class has finished its unit on plants, and the test, Ms. Keen suggests, will certainly cover seeds. Melinda is amazed at the process of seed germination and finds it nearly miraculous that any survive after what they have to go through.
Summary: Bologna Exile
With “no friends in the known universe,” Melinda eats alone, with her brown bag lunch, a necessary strategy for avoiding the cafeteria line and the attention it might draw. She sits in the corner alone, the bologna girl, trying to ignore the possibility that others are laughing at and talking about her.
Summary: Snow Day—School As Usual
Melinda lives in Syracuse, so eight inches of snow overnight does not warrant a snow day. In English class, Hairwoman wants to discuss what snow symbolized to Hawthorne. The class groans. Melinda, for one, appreciates the quiet of the snow after the blizzard.
Summary: Stupid Stupid
After school, unable to bear the thought of the bus ride home, Melinda retreats to her closet to take a nap. She awakens to screams from the gymnasium and goes to the gym in time for the last few minutes of a close basketball game. The Hornets win by one point, and she celebrates with the crowd, feeling a sense of belonging. David Petrakis sees her and invites her over to his house for pizza, to celebrate the win. She tells him no, and as she walks home, she recognizes the two conflicting Melinda’s. One tells her to just get a life while the other tells her that it’s a dangerous world out there.
Summary: A Night to Remember
At long last, Melinda recounts to the reader the events that she has been trying to forget all along. In the summer before ninth grade, she and Rachel, her best friend, were invited to a party at Kyle Rodgers’s farm, a few miles from Melinda’s house. They would go with Rachel’s older brother, Jimmy, and likely be the youngest teens there. Not long after arriving at Kyle’s, a senior asks Melinda to dance. He pulls her close, his hands wandering down her back. They kiss, his teeth so hard against her lips that she can barely breathe. Next thing she knows, they’re outside and he’s asking her, “Do you want to?” Then they’re on the ground. He’s on top of her, she’s struggling, and in her head she’s yelling, “NO I DON’T WANT TO!” He “hurts me hurts me hurts me and gets up,” she remembers. The assault over, Melinda calls 9-1-1, yet she can’t speak. Officers track the location and arrive at the scene. But Melinda has already left, walking, in a daze, back to a home she’d find empty.
Summary: My Report Card
Melinda’s report card shows five D’s, three F’s, and one A in Art.
Analysis: Third Marking Period, Part 2 (Picasso – My Report Card)
The motif of growth is prominent in this section through Melinda’s art and in her experiences. When Melinda becomes stuck creating her tree project, Mr. Freeman encourages her growth by suggesting she study Picasso. Picasso’s work inspires her to create a cubist tree, the most prominent symbol of growth throughout the novel. Mr. Freeman is again instrumental to Melinda’s growth when he says he believes she has a lot to say and that he’d like to hear it. This introduces a double entendre as it both encourages Melinda to express herself through her art and more literally to speak out about what happened to her. Another example of Melinda’s growth comes when she shops for clothes by herself, feeling awkward about being in the "young lady" section. Ironically, she observes that though her mother says Melinda should feel great about puberty, she complains about graying hair. All of Melinda's classes seem to focus on topics that aid in her growth. For example, science focuses on seeds, how they spread, what they need to grow, and all of the ways they can be destroyed. Melinda observes ironically that it's a miracle anything survives. In English, Melinda points out that snow in The Scarlet Letter symbolizes cold and silence, showing that Melinda has grown the courage to speak her thoughts.
The motif of physical trauma responses becomes significant in this section when Melinda turns down David’s invitation to a pizza party. This invitation triggers a memory of the traumatic event that has caused her silence throughout the novel. In contrast to earlier scenes, Melinda does not allude to the event or obfuscate her trauma. This time, she finally reveals exactly what happened to her at the party: she was raped by Andy, although she does not yet use the word rape. This plot development marks a turning point in Melinda’s ability to deal with her trauma. The revelation is narrated by Melinda through a memory, indicating that though she is finally able to confront the trauma on her own, she still is unable to speak about it. After Melinda meticulously replays each harrowing detail of the evening, she discovers the memory has caused her to bite clean through her lip without realizing it and will require stitches, once again highlighting the motif of physical trauma responses.