Choose one of the following topics:
Find as many references to speaking in the novel (when people speak, when they don't). What are the consequences for not speaking? What about for speaking up (saying what's important)? What is the author saying about speaking?
How does the development of Melinda's art reflect her process of healing and recovering?
Trees are one of the main symbols in the novel. What does Melinda learn from/through her interaction with trees throughout the novel.
One of the main motifs of the novel is mirrors. Find as many instances of mirrors (or any reflective surface) and think about what Melinda is doing, thinking, or learning. How does she grow or change throughout the book as she continues to consider her own reflection? Mirror images: 17, 21, 25, 40, 50, 82, 101, 124, 125, 136, 145, 170. Don't forget to consider the value of the mirror at the end of the novel as well.
Melinda's escapes: Look at all of the places Melinda goes to avoid being "in school." How are these places similar or different? What are the benefits of each place for her? Are there any detrimental effects?
The Marthas seem like great girls. The teachers and the administration think they are. Contrast Melinda's view of the Marthas with the adults' view of them.
Use quotation marks around passages that you use directly from the book to support your main ideas. Put the page number at the end of that passage showing what page you took it from. For example: Sentence begins and then "there is a passage from the book" (72). See how the period goes after the parenthesis? Use this model.
Elements of a basic literary analysis essay
Introduction: Your introduction needs a few basic elements.
You must give the author's name and the title of the book.
You must draw your reader in with an attention getting opening.
You must state your thesis in your introduction. Many times, the thesis sentence comes at the end of the introduction.
Claim: make a statement (something you believe, that you intend to prove or show)
Support: support your statement with evidence from the book (prove your claim)
Explanation: explain what you say, expand the idea, or connect to another idea
Conclusion: Connect back to your thesis. You can restate it, but not in exactly the same words. You can also extend the ideas by making a statement about what is important to remember. What are the key ideas that readers should remember after reading your essay? Do not address the reader directly. Remember never to use first or second person in an essay like this.