Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak The Effects of Rape Trauma and the Construction of the Recovery Narrative

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Arsto N. Ahmed
Rebwar Z. Mohammed


Speak (1999) is Laurie Halse Anderson’s first novel that calls attention to a critical, social issue that is common to girls entering teenagehood in the United States. The novel tells the specific story of the rape and subsequent selective silence of a ninth-grade protagonist named Melinda Sordino. Since the novel’s focus is on sexual violence and its associated traumatic responses, this paper offers an analysis of the novel through contemporary trauma theory. It presents Melinda’s painful narrative by depicting the impairment that the rape trauma causes in her behaviour, attitudes, thinking, interactions, and her overall well-being. In addition to exposing the adverse psychological effects on the victim, it scrutinises the tools she employs during her journey towards healing or recovery. This is done through demonstrating how Melinda’s resilience in the face of traumatic experience, reconciliation with her miserable situation, and acts of resistance to be changed by this experience can be read in the context of recovery rather than of madness and illness, as the traditional trauma theories could possibly suggest. Reading the novel through the lens of contemporary trauma theory makes one realise that Anderson’s work fulfils the goal of empowering survivors of rape, and it thus contributes to the recovery of those individuals who have undergone sexual violence at some point in their lives.


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How to Cite
Ahmed, A. N. and Mohammed, R. Z. (2020) “Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak: The Effects of Rape Trauma and the Construction of the Recovery Narrative”, Koya University Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences, 3(1), pp. 81-87. doi: 10.14500/kujhss.v3n1y2020.pp81-87.
Author Biographies

Arsto N. Ahmed, Department of English Language, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Arsto Ahmed is an assistant lecturer at the Department of English, Sulaimani University. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from Sulaimani University (2011), and an MA in English Literary Studies from the University of Exeter, UK (2013). He is currently a Ph.D. student at Sulaimani University, and his dissertation is due for defense in July of 2020. His research interests include Literary Trauma Theory, Feminism, Victorian and Postmodern Literature.      

Rebwar Z. Mohammed, Department of Translation, College of Languages, University of Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq / V. P. For Scientific Affairs and Postgraduate Studies, Cihan University Sulaimani, Kurdistan Region, Iraq

Dr. Rebwar Zainalddin Mohammed is an assistant professor and is currently the Vice President for Scientific Affairs and Postgraduate Studies at Cihan University/ Sulaimani. He holds a BA in English Language and Literature from the University of Mustansiriyah (1989), an MA in English Literature from the University of Koya (2006), and a Ph.D. in English literature from Sulaimani University (2012). His research interests include English & American Literature and Modern Drama.


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