” I hope you’re ready because I’m about to tell you the story of my life more specifically why my life ended. And if you’re listening to these tapes, you’re one of the reasons why”(7). Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher tells the story of High School student Hannah Baker who committed suicide, her classmate Clay Jensen who is the last receiver of these tapes finds a mysterious box of cassette tapes , and on each tape Hannah explains the reasons why she ended her life. Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why shines light on betrayal, abuse, and gossip and it also shows external conflict and internal conflict.
The main themes that Jay Asher used in his novel all contributed to Hannah committing suicide, one of which is betrayal. ” Betrayal. Its one of the worst feelings”(3.63), Hannah is betrayed by many characters throughout the novel but the first betrayal creates a chain of events that lead to her suicide. Her first betrayal is by Justin Foley who had been the first guy Hannah met at her new school and he was her first kiss, he lied about what really happened when they kissed and said that it as something more. “A rumor based on a kiss ruined a memory that I hoped would be special. A rumor based on a kiss stained a reputation that people believed and reacted to”(30). The rumor and lie Justin had told led other students to believe Hannah was a promiscuous girl and started the chain of events that led to her suicide.
Another theme that Jay Asher used in the novel is gossip, gossip is one of the main driving forces behind Hannah’s suicide. ” There’s something about having everyone agreeing on you. Something about you, that opens a cage of butterflies in your stomach. The lies and gossip that other students believed about Hannah and reacted to was something she was trapped in and couldn’t escape from and she hoped that people would see her, not the rumors surrounding her but the real her but they failed too.
Another theme that is used in the novel is abuse, upon hearing the rumors about Justin and Hannah and learning that she was crowned ” best ass in the freshman class” boys abused hands body because they thought if Justin did it so could they. One of the boys named Bryce felt entitled to touch Hannah by slapping her butt one afternoon in a corner store then grabbed her and said ” I’m only playing Hannah”(12). Bryce felt entitled to Hannah’s body and showed that he didn’t care about her and only viewed her as a toy. Later on in the novel Bryce shows his entitlement once again when he raped Hannah in the hot tub and he ignored her cries, this treatment is one of the things that contributed to Hannah’s suicide.
The main characters Hannah Baker and Clay Jensen represent external conflict (character vs character) and internal conflict ( character vs self ). External conflict occurs between Hannah and Marcus, one of her tormentors. Although she had already committed suicide, Hannah is essentially brought back to life through the cassette tapes as she describes an external conflict between her and another character ” Below the table, my fingertips were fighting to pry you fingers off. To loosen your grip, to push you away. And I didn’t want to yell it wasn’t to that level yet but my eyes were begging for help.” This external conflict between Hannah and Marcus had further increased her thoughts about suicide and made her believe that no one cared and Marcus believed that he was entitled to her body, this confrontation is another example of how boys felt entitled to touching Hannah however they wanted.
Clay Jensen represents internal conflict ( character vs self ) as he struggles with feeling like he played a part in Hannah’s suicide, and accepting the fact that she is no longer here. Clay loved Hannah and regrets that he didn’t tell her how he felt and must now accept that he will never get the chance. Before the acceptance of her death Hannah had always lingered in the back of clays mind and was a constant reminder that she is dead and she would always be in his thoughts. “Without her voice, the slight static hum that constantly played beneath her words sounds louder”.(281) Clay has accepted the fact that Hannah is gone because she is no longer lingering in his mind and he can only hear his thoughts and not her voice and there is no longer a reminder of her.
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, is the story of the life ,death, and suicide of Hannah Baker. It shows the reader that all actions have consequences and that you must take responsibility for what you do and say and if you have love someone tell them because you may never get the chance. It shines light on betrayal, abuse, and gossip and that you have an impact on peoples life positive or negative and one right or wrong move can end or save someone’s life.
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