Melinda begins by telling us that the Ecology Club won their battle to change the mascot from the Tigers to something else. The school board decides to allow a “democratic forum” to choose the new mascot. The students are herded into the auditorium where a discussion is held on what new name will be chosen. Melinda thinks “Overbearing Eurocentric Patriarchs” would be a good name, but she doesn’t openly suggest it. Instead, Student Council will hold an election before Winter Break in which the student body will vote for any one of the following: The Bees, The Icebergs, The Hilltoppers, or the Wombats.
This little chapter is interesting for the reader, because we see Melinda’s sarcasm and wit once again. However, more importantly, we see how really silly this school system is. In their attempt not to offend anyone, they are really just offensive anyway. It heightens our perception of Melinda’s world: how could people this stupid snub someone like Melinda? They are petty and ridiculous, but until she stands up for herself, they control her.
Melinda’s parents order her to stay after school every day in order to get help with her grades. She agrees, but spends the time in her secret closet. She wants to take down the mirror already on the wall, but since it is screwed into the wall, she covers it with a poster of Maya Angelou. Melinda knows Ms. Angelou is a great writer, because the school board banned one of her books. Then, Melinda sweeps and mops and adds a few books she has brought from home. Most of the time, however, she doesn’t read; she just “watches the scary movies playing on the inside of her eyelids.”
Melinda relates to us that it is getting even harder to talk, because her throat is always sore and her lips are continuously raw. When she wakes up in the morning, her jaws are clenched so tight that she has a headache. She can sometimes talk to Heather, but around her parents or teachers, she has “spastic laryngitis.” She recognizes that she has some emotional problems which she refers to as the “beast in her gut.” Sometimes, she wants to “confess everything, hand over the guilt and mistake and anger to someone else,” but most of the time, she uses her closet to “help her hold those thoughts inside her head where no one else can hear them.”
This is a very significant chapter, because it reveals that Melinda finds retreat and silence as the only way she can deal with what has happened to her. The closet, someone like Maya Angelou, and her “spastic laryngitis” keep her safe from dealing with a problem that is obviously too painful for her to think about. Also, it’s important to note that Melinda refers to herself as a perpetrator when she says she wants to “confess” everything. If the reader’s sense that she has been raped proves to be true, it is so sad to consider that this poor girl would believe she was in any way responsible for what happened to her.