<em>No return engagements. No encore. And this time, absolutely no requests.</em>
No, I can't believe it. Hannah Baker killed herself. (3.3-4)
Hannah obviously records the tapes before she dies, but it feels like she's a vengeful ghost speaking to her listeners from the beyond.
I'm listening to someone give up. Someone I knew. Someone I liked.
I'm listening but I'm still too late. (8.281-82)
Death colors everything in this story, but it's most prominent in the later sections, as Hannah becomes more and more sure of her decision to take her own life.
<em>I needed a change, just like they said, so I changed my appearance. The only thing I still had control over. </em>(9.137)
The novel points to a change in appearance as a big sign that someone is at risk for suicide. "But," you might be thinking, "people change their appearance all the time! Just look at Lady Gaga." We were thinking the same thing. Perhaps it has to do with the meaning of this change: is it just for fun, or is it a cry for attention?
<em>I wrote a note to Mrs. Bradley that read: "Suicide. It's something I've been thinking about. Not too seriously, but I have been thinking about it." </em>(9.201)
Hannah doesn't blame Mrs. Bradley, her Peer Communications teacher, but Shmoop thinks she let Hannah down. She had a responsibility to try to find out who wrote the note. Agree or disagree?
<em>"It's like whoever wrote this note just wants attention. If they were serious, they would have told us who they were." </em>(9.222)
The insensitivity to suicide in Hannah's Peer Communications class makes it even harder for her to talk about. It also confirms her growing belief that everybody in her life will eventually let her down.
No one knew who caused it. Not us. Not the police.
But Jenny knew. And Hannah. And maybe Jenny's parents, because someone fixed her bumper real fast. (12.161-162)
Jenny and Hannah are involved in an accident that likely caused the death of another high school student. Hannah's guilt over this premature death is a factor in her decision to speed up her own.
I summarize a bullet point from the handout at school. "Giving away possessions." (13.19)
Hannah gives Tony her bike the night before she takes her own life. He blames himself for not recognizing that this, along with her tears, was a sign of her suicidal state. Might this act have been a cry for help? Maybe Hannah thought that if she gave Tony her bike, he'd figure out what she was going to do and try to stop her.
<em>I wish I would die.
</em>I've thought those words many times. But it's a hard thing to say out loud. It's even scarier to feel you might mean it. (14.10-11)
Clay admits that even he has had suicidal or near-suicidal feelings. This comes as a surprise and makes us want to hear more of his story. Luckily, Clay doesn't seem at risk for suicide. If anything, Hannah's death makes him appreciate life even more.
You took pills. That, we all know. Some say you passed out and drowned in a bathtub full of water. (14.18)
Here's a good example of that second person point of view we talk about in our section on "Narrative Technique." In that section, we focus on Hannah's use of the second person, but Clay uses it, too – to address Hannah. Here he's telling her all the rumors about the way she died. This is a grim but somehow tender point in the story.