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Longer essays may also contain an introductory page that defines words and phrases of the essay's topic. Most academic institutions require that all substantial facts, quotations, and other porting material in an essay be referenced in a bibliography or works cited page at the end of the text. This scholarly convention helps others (whether teachers or fellow scholars) to understand the basis of facts and quotations the author uses to support the essay's argument and helps readers evaluate to what extent the argument is supported by evidence, and to evaluate the quality of that evidence. The academic essay tests the student's ability to present their thoughts in an organized way and is designed to test their intellectual capabilities.
A symbol is a representation of something else, often times a material object signifying something abstract. Laurie Halse Anderson’s young-adult novel Speak is packed with symbolism. Trees are one of the most prevalent symbols in the novel, appearing in almost every chapter of the book. Trees represent life and growth for the main protagonist in the story Melinda, and are symbolic of her journey through her mental recovery after being raped. The author’s reoccurring use of the tree allows the readers to understand Melinda in a different way, beyond the narrator’s literal words. Anderson’s use of the tree aids the reader in seeing Melinda’s suffering and recovery. Towards the beginning of the novel as Melinda is assigned a tree for her yearlong art project, she begins to create trees that parallel her emotional state. At first she struggles to bring her tree to life, the trees she constructs are bare, lifeless, and lacking detail. Her inability to draw life and details and express the complexity of a tree, is comparable to her incompetence to live and share details to others. Ever since Melinda’s rape, she struggles with opening up to the other people in her life. Several aspects of her first few art projects represent her pain and depression. After being picked on by a few girls at a pep rally, Melinda’s trees reflect her misery. “For a solid week, ever since the pep rally, I’ve been painting watercolors of trees that have been hit by lightning. I try to paint them so they are nearly dead, but not totally.” (Anderson 30). Without her sharing her feelings about how poorly she was treated, the readers understand her emotions by her artwork and the use of the tree. The fact that they have been hurt but still continue hanging on is symbolic of Melinda’s experience and how defeated she feels.
Towards the middle of the novel, arborists cut away a dead branch from a tree in order to save the rest of it. This symbolizes ...