Melinda notes in this chapter that Mr. Stetman refuses to give up trying to convince his students that algebra is something they will use the rest of their lives. She thinks they should give him the Teacher of the Century award and send him to Hawaii for two weeks, all expenses paid. She observes how sweet it is that he cares so much, sort of like a grandfather who tries to fix up two young kids that he knows will make a great couple. The problem is that they have nothing in common and they hate each other. As soon his current application of algebra turns into x’s and y’s, Melinda zones out and watches the snow falling outside.
Melinda’s observation of Mr. Stetman is interesting in that she thinks so highly of how much he cares. For someone who tries not to care about anything, she admires someone who does. It’s an indication that Melinda herself would like to feel just like Mr. Stetman does, but just can’t summon the energy.
In English class, the students are continuing to write essays, which no one turns in on time. Eventually, Hairwoman, the teacher, comes to realize that the students will only write about topics they talk about everyday and that she can sneak in grammar lessons while they write. Melinda decides that “words are hard work” and that she hopes they send Hairwoman to a conference or something. She’s ready for a substitute!
This chapter once again focuses on speaking, this time through writing essays. Melinda can’t find her voice here either. It’s still too hard.
Melinda spends the next two weeks making and hanging the posters for Heather and the can drive. She is hanging one up outside the metal shop room when suddenly IT creeps up behind her and whispers in her ear, “Freshmeat.” IT keeps finding her and she cannot ignore IT. She can smell him again and she almost throws up, but runs away, thinking in a panic that he remembers and he knows.
This chapter evokes for us the terrible way this boy treats Melinda, It is not enough that he raped her at the party and got away with it, but now he tortures her by reminding her about it every time he sees her. Because of her inability to speak in response to this situation, Melinda finds that her other senses seem heightened: she can smell him, feel the dirt under her body, and the leaves in her hair. Her pain and fear are unimaginable.