Love One Another
In today’s society, you often hear about problems that families are having. Just turn on the news and you will see stories about domestic violence and abuse. You hear stories everyday about how terribly some parents are treating their children, and vise versa, how badly children are treating their parents. Is this the type of society that we want to live in? No way. The story Speak, by Laurie Halse Anderson, is a perfect example of what is wrong with families in today’s society. The Sordino’s relationship with each other shows that families are dysfunctional for many reasons, and their problems can have a negative affect on the lives of the family members. The only way that these problems can be fixed, is by taking several steps. The first step in improving the Sordino’s relationship is better communication.
Communication is one of the biggest factors in a healthy relationship. It lets others know how you feel and can solve arguments without too much arguing and yelling. Melinda’s family does the exact opposite. They never talk to each other about their problems, they often solve arguments by yelling and fighting, and worst of all, they never speak for themselves. When they need to communicate with each other, they leave a note instead of talking to the person about it. “My family had a very good system. We communicate with notes on the kitchen counter. I write.….They write. What else is there so say?” (14). This system may seem like it works well for Melinda’s family, but in the long run, it’s just making things worse. They aren’t communicating properly and barely ever speak to each other. This just discourages Melinda from speaking even more. It also prevents Melinda from ever talking to her parents and telling them how she really feels. Whenever Melinda and her family try to communicate with each other about their problems, they start getting angry and yelling at each other, which results in big arguments and conflicts.
Another evident problem in the Sordino’s relationship is their arguing. They never try to solve problems peacefully, and always end up arguing with each other. Arguing families never agree on anything and become very dysfunctional. Many times, when Melinda’s family sits down and tries to have a nice family dinner, it turns into quite the scene. “The Parents are making threatening noises, turning dinner into performance art. I am the victim” (35). While Melinda’s parents are acting crazy and arguing, she just zips her mouth and doesn’t say a word. She’s either too afraid to intervene, or she just doesn’t have the desire to say anything. This directly affects her life outside of home, where she barely ever talks to anyone, and is always silent. The sad part is, Melinda’s family notices that she isn’t talking, but they don’t always seem to care. They only yell at her more and more. “Why won’t you say anything? For the love of God, open your mouth!” (114). When families such as Melinda’s argue, it shows how people can get so wrapped up in their own lives that they often forget about how others feel. So, it’s not that Melinda’s parents don’t care about her, they just get a little too self-centered sometimes and forget about Melinda’s problems. If Melinda’s family knew what it takes to be a family, they would know that arguing is definitely not what it takes.
In order for a family to function properly, they must be willing to “be a family” and really care about each other. Sometimes, people have to take time out of their busy lives, and focus on what’s really important; their family. The Sordino family is not very good at this. Often times they try to make it look like they are making an effort to “be a family” but deep down, they are only thinking about themselves. Take the holidays for example. For Melinda’s family, they usually consist of last minute celebrations that are thrown together just because that’s what they usually do every year. Easter used to be a happy celebration for Melinda’s family, but now it just seems like a waste of time. “Dad complained about how much yard work has to be done. Mom didn’t say much. I said less.” (143). On the outside, it looks like Melinda and her family enjoys celebrating the holidays, but on the inside, they don’t care, and just want to get them over with. To them, it’s just time that they could be using to do something else, but in reality it should be an opportunity for them to bond as a family. It also seems to me that Melinda’s family doesn’t show their love and care for each other. Her parents realize that there is definitely something wrong with Melinda, but they don’t try find out what’s wrong. “Mom sees the wrist at breakfast. She says that suicide is for cowards.”(88). Melinda is never going to come out and tell her parents what’s wrong if they don’t show that they care about her. Families need to care for each other, because if they don’t, everything will fall apart.
A person’s family should be one of the most important things in their lives. Families give you the support that you need to get through tough times and celebrate the great ones. But in Melinda’s case, her family doesn’t always support her, and their problems lead to issues that Melinda has in her everyday life, such as not speaking. They don’t communicate well with each other, and always argue instead of peacefully talking about their problems. The worst part about Melinda’s dysfunctional family is that they too self-centered and are afraid to show Melinda how much they really care about her. This is similar to how Melinda is afraid to open up and show her emotions. So, in order for a family to be happy, they need to truly love and care about each other. If they love each other it will eliminate so many problems and improve the lives of everyone in the family.
Anderson, Laurie Halse. Speak. New York: Puffin Books, 1999.