Study Guide

All the Bright Places Identity

By Jennifer Niven

Identity

Maybe, if I wear the glasses long enough, I can be like her. I can see what she saw. I can be both of us at once so no one will have to miss her, most of all me. (2.49)

After her sister's death, Violet wears Eleanor's glasses as a way to see the world through her eyes. They just give her a headache, though.

"He's a gentleman." There aren't many people who would say this about me, but the great thing about this life of ours is that you can be someone different to everybody. (3.41)

Do you think that Finch is someone different to everybody?

I fish through my desk for a cigarette, stick it in my mouth, and remember as I'm reaching for my lighter that Theodore Finch, '80s kid, doesn't smoke. God, I hate him, the clean-cut, eager little prick. (3.55)

When Finch changes his image, he really goes for it, down to habits. It's sort of like method acting, but for real life.

The walls are lined with school photos. Finch in kindergarten. Finch in middle school. He looks different every year, not just agewise but personwise. Class-clown Finch. Awkward Finch. Cocky Finch. Jock Finch. (11.16)

We like this image of the Wall of Many Finches. It's sad, though, that Finch never felt like he found himself.

I…catch sight of myself in the mirror…I lean in and look at myself, and it's not my face but someone else's. (21.78)

Sometimes Finch can't even recognize himself. Is that a symptom of his bipolar disorder?

"By the way? Ryan Cross is a kleptomaniac. He steals stuff for fun. And not even things he wants, but everything. His room looks like one of those rooms on Hoarders. Just in case you thought he was perfect." (32.60)

Well, well, well. The Bartlett High dreamboat is a secret criminal. We knew Ryan couldn't be that perfect.

I love…the way she looks at me as if there's only me, as if she can see past the flesh and bone and bulls*** right into the me that's there, the one I don't even see myself. (40.79)

It's true that, on some level, Violet sees Finch more clearly than he sees himself. On another level, there are things he hides from her that make him hard to know.

Amanda, as Rachel, avoids looking at me. In a wooden voice she recites, "I'm Rachel, I'm seventeen, I'm bulimic, and I tried to kill myself twice, both times with pills. I hide myself away with smiles and gossip." (44.15)

Looks like Finch isn't the only one hiding his mental illness. The big reveal of Amanda's secret is sort of awful, though, considering she's so mean to Finch for being a "freak."

Which of my feelings are real? Which of the mes is me? There is only one me I've ever really liked, and he was good and awake as long as he could be. (49.2)

Finch's identity is so fractured or broken. He doesn't have a strong sense of self. He feels lost.

Will other people be able to tell? I take a picture with my phone, fake smiling as I pose, and when I look at it, there's Violet Markey. I could post it on Facebook right now, and no one would know that I took it After instead of Before. (54.2)

It's worth remembering that the selves people post to Facebook and Instagram aren't necessarily representative of real life.