Study Guide

All the Bright Places Guilt and Blame

By Jennifer Niven

Guilt and Blame

"Do you believe you're responsible for what happened?" I tug on the bangs now. They are lopsided. "No." She sits back. Her smile slips a fraction of an inch. We both know I'm lying. (2.28-2.30)

Violet feels responsible for the death of her sister, Eleanor. Why is she lying to her counselor?

My mother blames our bad behavior on the divorce and my dad. She says we just need time to work through it. (3.70)

Finch's mom blames his dad for a lot of things. She doesn't take any responsibility for her children's problems—or their wellbeing.

"Isn't it nice to have your brother back, Decca?" She says it as if I'm in danger of disappearing again, right in front of their eyes. The slightly blaming note in her voice makes me cringe…. (3.72)

Finch feels a lot of guilt for what he puts people through. We blame his bipolar disorder, not him.

I can't even think of my parents, forced to deal with the death of their only remaining child. Not even an accidental death, but an intentional one. That's one reason I came tonight without a fight. I feel ashamed of what I almost put them through. (5.22)

Violet wasn't thinking about her parents when she was standing on that ledge, but she sure is thinking about them now.

The act of writing…makes me feel as if I'm cheating on her. Maybe because I'm here and she's not, and the whole thing—every big or small moment I've lived since last April—feels like cheating in some way. (13.51)

Why does Violet blame herself for her sister's death, anyway?

"You deserve better. I can't promise you I'll stay around, not because I don't want to. It's hard to explain. I'm a f***up. I'm broken, and no one can fix it. I've tried. I'm still trying. I can't love anyone because it's not fair to anyone who loves me back." (32.56)

Finch doesn't think he deserves love. But Violet loves him just the way he is.

I ride past her house and continue across town to Finch's, and the whole thing is so easy, even though I have this weird stitch in my chest because I just lied to my parents. (38.23)

Violet sneaks around with Finch after her parents forbid her from seeing him. Hey, at least she has the grace to feel bad about it.

"Are you feeling okay?" I try not to sound like the blaming girlfriend. Why won't you spend time with me? Why won't you call me back? Don't you like me anymore? (45.22)

Sometimes Violet feels like she's walking on eggshells with Finch. It makes it hard for her to ask him certain questions, such as "Why are you sleeping in your bedroom closet?"

I don't go for her or for her dad or for Kate or for Decca. I go for me. Maybe because I know whatever I find will be my fault. (53.1)

Just as Violet felt responsible for her sister's death, she feels responsible for Finch's. That's a lot of guilt to carry around.

They are no longer mad at me, because they're furious with Mrs. Finch, and probably Finch too, although they haven't said so. My dad, as usual, is more outspoken than my mom, and I overhear him talking about That woman…. (54.3)

Violet's parents blame Finch's mother for his death. They don't know that Finch went to great lengths to hide his illness from her.