Summary: Fourth Marking Period, Part 2 (The Beast Prowls – Prom Preparations)
The Beast Prowls
Melinda works on her tree sketches after school, supported by Mr. Freeman. When he leaves for a faculty meeting, IT appears. Melinda smells him, the cologne she’s sure must be called “Fear.” He asks if she’s seen Rachelle, Rachelle Bruin. He sits on the table, smearing her drawing. Luckily, Rachel and Ivy come into the room. Andy rips Melinda’s paper and heads out, arm around Rachel. Rachel must have received the note, Melinda thinks, but she’s choosing to ignore it. Ivy sits down. Melinda is convinced Ivy must feel that something is not right. Once they’re alone, Ivy tells Melinda, “that creep [Andy] is trouble with a capital ‘T’.”
Melinda decides she needs a “mental-health day.” Her mom admits that Melinda must be sick because she’s actually talking, then quickly apologizes when she realizes how snarky she sounds.
Oprah, Sally Jessy, Jerry, and Me
Melinda nurses a fever. As she watches TV talk shows, the question occurs to her, “Was I raped?” She then imagines how the interviews would go, with Oprah, Sally Jessy, and Jerry. With an intense headache, Melinda wishes amnesia upon herself. She wonders if Andy raped her head, too.
Melinda seems energized with spring, and spends the weekend raking leaves and cleaning up in the garden. Her dad admits that the yard looks a lot better and suggests he might trim the bushes and paint the shutters. He invites her to go with him to the hardware store. She declines but finds her voice to ask if he can pick up some flower seeds.
Melinda is playing tennis in gym class. Melinda thrives on the competition as she faces her ex-friend, the athletic Nicole, and nearly beats her.
Melinda announces the arrival of the yearbook and thinks the whole yearbook signature thing is rather silly. She won’t be buying one.
Hairwoman No More
Hairwoman has a buzz cut, which Melinda describes. Melinda wonders what caused her to make such a radical change in her appearance.
Little Writing on the Wall
In art class, Ivy’s markers slip and she accidently draws a rainbow across the front of Melinda’s shirt. Melinda goes to the bathroom to rinse the marker off, and Ivy appears. Melinda, in a stall while Ivy rinses her shirt, reads the notes that cover the stall walls. She asks Ivy why she said what she had said about Andy being a creep. Ivy tells Melinda that he has a reputation for getting what he wants, and he only wants one thing. Melinda borrows a marker from Ivy and, back in the stall, writes: “Guys to Stay Away From:” Then she adds the first name to the list: “Andy Evans.” Ivy smiles approvingly.
Melinda calls the Senior Prom the climax of mating season. Heather is in a panic and comes crawling back to Melinda for help. She appears at the Sordino doorstep, determined to get back in Melinda’s good graces. Up in Melinda’s room, she explains that the Marthas have given her the job of decorating the ballroom for the Prom. Melinda is embarrassed that Heather sees the disheveled state of her bedroom. Heather offers to help Melinda re-do the room. She says she now understands why Melinda had told her she hated her room, saying to would be depressing to wake up in it. Heather insists that Melinda has to help her, but Melinda replies that no, she does not.
Analysis: Fourth Marking Period, Part 2 (The Beast Prowls – Prom Preparations)
After the run-in with Andy in the art room, Melinda grows conscious of how trauma is causing her physical pain, an important motif. Though the art room is her safe space, Andy’s ability to infiltrate it causes Melinda to freeze, and she compares herself to a deer frozen in headlights. This time, the trauma response continues, and Melinda develops a fever and is too sick to go to school. Melinda has a moment of self-awareness that her fever may be a response to trauma and stress, underscoring this motif once again. This growing acceptance leads Melinda to a larger realization and the word “rape” is first introduced as a question: "Was I raped?" Melinda's confusion on this matter largely stems from the lack of open dialogue about sex with teens that is hinted at throughout the novel. Melinda works through this painful realization by imagining she is talking to talk show hosts, but with her realizations of the truth come more physical pain.
The theme of communication is underscored in this section as Melinda’s growth leads to her finding her voice. Nature and spring symbolize this growth as Melinda does yard work, which later gives her tough callouses on her hands. This metaphor of cleaning out the old so that plants can grow anew is also paralleled when Melinda describes her ability to verbally respond to her father’s question as raking the leaves from her throat. Melinda’s growth is also shown in her surprise at learning about herself: she discovers a talent for basketball and tennis, a green thumb, and a keen eye for the rampant double standards in high school. When Heather shows up to her house asking for help, Melinda begins to see her room and herself as Heather sees it: childish, out of style, sad. Melinda's room symbolizes her identity, and Heather wants to redecorate it in yet another style that does not match who Melinda has grown to be. When Heather tosses aside the bunnies, the one item Melinda connects with herself, Melinda speaks up, refusing to help Heather. This refusal signifies Melinda's burgeoning strength.