Study Guide

Thirteen Reasons Why Guilt and Blame

By Jay Asher

Guilt and Blame

Chapter 3
Hannah Baker

<em>I know what you're thinking. As I was telling the story, I was thinking the same thing. A kiss? A rumor based on a kiss made you do this to yourself? </em>(3.223)

Hannah pretty much reads our minds here. At the beginning of the story, it's hard not to read a little defensively. We have a hard time listening to people who can only blame others for their problems. But as we hear Hannah out, we come to understand why Justin's betrayal is such a big deal to her.

<em>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.</em>

What? No! (3.5-6)

Hannah's story begins with this harsh accusation. It really does a number on Clay, who is sure he did nothing about which he should feel guilty.

Chapter 4

Alex's list was a joke. A bad one, true. But he had no idea it would affect her like this. This isn't fair. (4.48)

Alex admits to Clay that there's no truth behind the rumor that he and Hannah were involved sexually or romantically. We aren't proud of Alex and his list, but we don't see it as unforgiveable. Maybe the point is that there's a general lack of communication going on here, and it's showing in the characters' relationships.

Hannah Baker

<em>Every single event documented here may never have happened had you, Alex, not written my name on that list. It's that simple. </em>(4.45)

Even Clay admits that Hannah isn't being reasonable here. Yes, Alex's list had a serious effect on her. But her insistence that the list is responsible for everything that happened afterward conveys the desperation and confusion she's feeling as she records her story.

Chapter 6

Tyler, wherever you are, I am so sorry. You deserve this, but I'm sorry. (6.209)

There isn't really enough evidence to convince us that Tyler is the Peeping Tom. If he is, do you agree with Clay that he deserves to be on the tapes? Why or why not?

Chapter 7
Marcus Cooley

"What makes us so different from him?"

"Nothing. It's ridiculous [. . . ]. I don't belong on those tapes. Hannah just wanted an excuse to kill herself." (7.180-84)

That's some interesting logic, Marcus. Clay wants to know why Tyler is being singled out, getting rocks thrown at his window, when everybody on the tapes is guilty. Marcus, on the other hand, is making a scapegoat out of Tyler; placing the blame on him when really Marcus himself is just as guilty.

Chapter 9
Hannah Baker

<em>I guess that's the point of it all. No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue. Yet we push it just the same. </em>(9.68)

Hannah suggests that she wants the people on the tapes to feel guilty so they'll think twice before hurting someone again. Do you think this will work?

This isn't fair. If Zach had any idea what Hannah was going though, I'm sure he wouldn't have stolen her notes.<em> </em>(9.167)

Thanks, Clay. Here we see why Clay's point of view is so important to the story. He provides more objectivity than Hannah, critically analyzing her words instead of accepting them blindly.

Chapter 11
Hannah Baker

<em>Clay, honey, your name does not belong on this list. </em>(11.75)

Whew. Clay breathes a big fat sigh of relief when he hears these words. The problem is, he's starting to think he <em>is</em> guilty. He let the rumors about Hannah stand in the way of his feelings for her. He realizes how much she cared for him and how much of a difference his love could have made in her life.

<em>Think about it. He raped a girl and would leave town in a second if he knew… well… if he knew that we knew. </em>(11.91)

Hannah's decision not to reveal Bryce's name is really confusing. Other than Mr. Porter, everybody else on the list will probably figure out, like Clay does, that she's talking about Bryce. So why not just say his name? And what about her threat to release the tapes if they aren't passed on? Since Bryce isn't named in the part about the rape, what's to keep him playing the game?

Chapter 13
Tony

"We're all to blame," [Tony] says. "At least a little." (13.10)

Just a little word of wisdom from Tony, the guy in charge of making sure that Hannah's last wishes are carried out. Do you think Tony is onto something here, or do you disagree?

Chapter 14
Hannah Baker

<em>No matter what I've said so far, no matter who I've spoken of, it all comes back to – it all ends with – me. </em>(14.4)

Hannah blames herself here. She doesn't try to minimize the guilt of the other characters, but she seems to be suggesting that everything is intricately intertwined.