Speak Summary and Analysis of Part 4: Exterminators - The Beast Prowls


Once again, there are complaints about the Merryweather mascot. The PTA has taken offense to the cheerleaders' chants of “We are the Hornets! Horny, horny hornets!” The student government starts a counter petition describing the psychological harm done to the student body by the school year’s lack of identity.

There are signs of spring as winter comes to an end. The snow is melting, Melinda’s mother has moved the winter coats up to the attic, and acceptance and rejection letters from colleges are arriving. Melinda has been attending most of her classes and has passed all of her recent tests. Andy Evans has abandoned his pursuit of the Marthas and has moved on to the international girls. Easter passes by in Melinda’s household without much notice. During spring break, Melinda goes to the mall and runs into Ivy, who is painting by the central fountain. The girls talk about art and their projects for Mr. Freeman’s class. Ivy tells Melinda that she is better at drawing than she thinks she is. She encourages Melinda to draw a tree on her sketchpad.

The last unit of the year in biology is genetics. This causes Melinda to think about the traits she received from her mother and those she received from her father. When she was younger she often pretended that she was a princess who had been kidnapped from her real parents. One day, when her father took a limo to the airport, Melinda thought that her real parents had actually come to take her away. She panicked and did not want to go. Now, however, Melinda wishes that someone would come and save her from her life.

Melinda thinks Rachel has gone insane when she hears that Rachel went to the movies with Andy Evans. She and her exchange student friend, who Melinda calls Greta-Ingrid, now follow him everywhere. In algebra class, Melinda hears Rachel obsessing over Andy. She faces a dilemma: whether or not to tell Rachel what happened in August. After class, Melinda follows Andy and Rachel down the hall. When she sees them kiss, Melinda remembers spending time with Rachel when they were younger.

Melinda sits in her closet and ponders how to best warn Rachel about Andy. She considers telling Greta-Ingrid but figures that Greta-Ingrid probably does not speak English. She cannot simply talk to Rachel. If she were to tell Rachel that she heard Andy is dangerous, Andy would only seem more attractive to her. If she were to tell Rachel what happened, Rachel probably would not believe her. Melinda stares at the Maya Angelou poster on the wall and knows she must warn her former friend in some way. She composes a note on a torn piece of notebook paper informing Rachel that Andy Evans attacked a ninth grader.

Melinda is frustrated in art class when Mr. Freeman sits next to her and critiques her work. He tells Melinda that there is not enough emotion in her tree. Melinda throws her linoleum block in the garbage but Mr. Freeman fetches it out. He tells Melinda to give things second chances.

David Petrakis wins his legal battle with Mr. Neck and the rest of the class is impressed and astounded by him. Mr. Neck announces that anyone flunking the class can write an extra credit report. Melinda writes her paper on suffragettes. She dedicates a substantial amount of time to it and is very proud of her work. However, when she turns it in, Mr. Neck tells her she will have to deliver it before the class in order to receive credit. Melinda has no intention of doing this and consults with David Petrakis. The pair comes up with a plan.

On the day that Melinda is to give her report to the class, she writes a message on the blackboard and covers it with a suffragette protest poster. When Mr. Neck nods at her to begin, Melinda picks up her report as if she is going to read it, but instead rips the poster off of the blackboard. On the board she has written a message about the suffragettes and their strength in standing up for what they believe in. She maintains that she has the right to stand up against giving speeches. David hands out copies of Melinda’s essay to the class. Although Melinda plans on standing silently in the front of the room for five minutes, Mr. Neck gives her a D and escorts her to the main office. Melinda receives another term in MISS. Melinda decides that she needs a lawyer like David’s.

David sends Melinda a typed note telling her that he feels sorry that her parents did not send her to class with a video recorder like his did. Melinda is glad to receive some sympathy. When David stops by Melinda’s locker, she tells him that she received a D on the report. David says that a “D” grade is not entirely unfair because the suffragettes stood up for their right to speak, not to be silent. To be silent is to let authority trump you. Melinda asks him if he lectures all of his friends. He tells her that he only lectures those that he likes. Their conversation ends flirtatiously and leaves Melinda wondering if David was asking her out. She decides that a date will never happen because the idea of being touched, even by someone she likes, horrifies her.

Mr. Freeman lets Melinda stay after school to work on her tree assignment. He shows Melinda how to draw a tree in just three strokes, and makes her practice over and over. Mr. Freeman is called to a faculty meeting and she is left alone to draw. In the middle of Melinda’s three-stroke tree attempts, Andy Evans enters the room and flickers the lights. He asks Melinda if she has seen Rachel. Melinda says nothing. Rachel soon walks in the room and grabs Andy. Ivy walks in soon after and scowls at the pair. After Rachel and Andy leave, Ivy tells Melinda that she feels as if she does not know Rachel anymore. She thinks that Andy Evans is a creep. Melinda says nothing and goes home, where she buries her head in old clothes and screams.


Melinda's mental health changes with the seasons and spring brings about new growth. She starts working hard in her classes and passing exams. When she runs into Ivy at the mall, she actually stays to have a conversation with her. Unfortunately, at the same time, Andy Evans is becoming more of a presence in Melinda's life. He causes Melinda anxiety when he begins to date Rachel, distracting her from her improvements and causing her anger and frustration in art class.

Anderson uses a feminist theme to illustrate Melinda's realization that she must speak in order to get what she wants. When Melinda devises a plan in which she likens herself to a suffragette and stands up for her right to not give speeches, she is actually highlighting her own weakness in comparison to those strong female leaders that she admires so much. David Petrakis points this out, saying, "But you got it wrong. The suffragettes were all about speaking up, screaming for their rights. You can't speak up for your right to be silent. That's letting the bad guys win.” This is reflected in Melinda’s struggle over whether to warn Rachel about Andy—she can’t bear the idea, but if she doesn’t, he not only wins but could hurt Rachel.

Even though Melinda continues to be impressed with David, especially as he wins his legal battle against Mr. Neck, she is uncomfortable with the notion of touching him. Melinda's growth has only gotten her so far. She is still quiet, still nervous, and still does not want to reveal the truth, and as long as she continues to keep it to herself, she can’t move on and begin to heal and grow.

Andy continues to invade Melinda's life more directly. This foreshadows his second attack at the end of the novel. Melinda's new nickname for Andy, Andy Beast, shows Melinda's recognition of his nastiness. She is no longer scared to use his name. To the contrary, she is now willing to name him for what he is, and what she desires to expose him as to the entire school, and especially to Rachel.