Study Guide

Me Before You Fear

By Jojo Moyes

Fear

What would we talk about? What if he just stared at me, head lolling, all day? Would I be freaked out? (2.131)

Lou is terrified by the prospect of caring for a quadriplegic. In our eyes, however, she's not scared of him because of his disability, but because it's something that's unknown for her. As we'll see, Lou has a big problem facing the unknown.

"A previous caregiver disappeared for several hours once to get her car fixed, and Will...injured himself in her absence." (3.8)

Camilla Traynor is deeply afraid of something happening to Will, which is understandable after we learn about his previous suicide attempt. It's bad enough that something so horrible happened to her only son, but now she's forced to reckon with the idea that he might do something horrible to himself.

I wished I could go back, back to when my biggest worry was whether Frank and I had ordered in enough Chelsea buns. (9.146)

Lou's life was a lot simpler back when she spent her days at the café and her evenings in front of the TV. Meeting Will has been great for her in many ways, but it's also opened her up to a great deal more anxiety and fear about the future.

I didn't add that [...] driving to the hospital in sole charge of Will was still enough to bring me out in a cold sweat. (10.14)

Taking care of Will is a tough job. Not only is there a lot of work to do, but there's also a lot that could go wrong at any moment. This is exacerbated by the fact that Lou has grown to care for her ward a great deal, giving her a personal stake in his well-being.

I can tell you the exact day I stopped being fearless. (12.1)

What follows this line is a recounting of a night in Lou's early adulthood, during which it is alluded to that she was raped. It's a gut-wrenching scene that helps explain her fears of the outside world.

"I get really, really scared of how this is going to go [...] I could end up not being able to breathe by myself, not being able to talk." (17.237)

This is the first time we really get Will's perspective on his condition. It's bad enough that he's lost his independence and ability to do the things he loves, but he also has to face the prospect that it's only going to get worse. That's a tough thing to live with each and every day.

"No. They were responsible."

Nobody had ever said those words aloud to me. (17.249)

Devastatingly, Lou has never been able to shake the feeling that she's somehow to blame for what happened in the castle maze, which couldn't be more untrue. This sense of guilt and shame is what has kept her from moving on and rebuilding her sense of self in its wake.

My heart was racing. [...] I had been running pretty much since I received Nathan's text message an hour earlier. (22.6)

When Will catches pneumonia it's pretty much Lou's worst fears realized. Luckily, Will recovers relatively quickly, but it helps her see the health difficulties that he's been living with for over two years.

[H]is eyes [...] said there wasn't necessarily going to be another time. They said he thought he would never be well again. (22.67)

This is the first time that Lou sees Will while he's in the throes of a serious medical issue. He feels both hopeless and terrified—almost imprisoned. It's tough, but it goes a long way toward explaining his decision to end his life.

As I did so I had to fight a peculiar sense of panic. A subversive little voice kept rising up inside me, saying This is how it would feel if he were dead. (22.80)

This ultimately becomes Lou's worst fear: that Will will die. And it comes true. How's she supposed to handle that? It's going to be a tough road for her, without a doubt, but we think that the lessons she's learned over the past six months will help her eventually find happiness again.