Study Guide

Thirteen Reasons Why Sex

By Jay Asher

Sex

Chapter 3

Then later I heard about her getting felt up at the rocket slide. And she was so new to school that the rumors overshadowed everything else I knew about her. (3.218)

The rumors of Hannah's sexual promiscuity are so widespread that even good ol' Clay uses them to define her.

Hannah was beyond me, I figured. Too experienced to even think about me. (3.219)

Clay isn't just afraid to approach Hannah because of what people will say. He's also intimidated by her image as someone more sexually experienced than him.

Hannah Baker

<em>Hannah Baker is not, and never was, a slut. Which begs the question. What have you heard? </em>(3.158)

The theme of sex is tied up with the theme of respect and reputation. Hannah's reputation makes her hypersensitive about sex and what people think about her. The rumors rob her of her privacy and the freedom to explore sexuality at her own pace. Of course, Hannah contributes to the problem by letting the rumors control her. She feels powerless to defeat them or to change how they affect her.

<em>You wanted something sexier, didn't you? You wanted to hear how my itchy little fingers started playing with his zipper. You wanted to hear… </em>(3.212)

Hannah's fury comes through loud and clear in this passage. The rumors that she and Justin did more than kiss were spread over two years ago, but they clearly remained fresh in Hannah's mind.

Chapter 7
Hannah Baker

<em>Ready for this, everyone? Our sweet little Miss Crimson told this guy, and whoever else was standing within earshot, that I've got a few little surprises buried in my dresser drawers. </em>(7.232)

Now other <em>girls</em> are spreading rumors about Hannah's sex life. For some reason everyone wants to be all up in her business that way. Courtney's lie reminds us of every teen movie ever made. Unfortunately, this time, things turn out much differently.

Chapter 11
Hannah Baker

<em>His arm cradling my head like a pillow. Both of my arms hugging him, trying to pull him closer. And speaking for myself, I wanted more. </em>(11.224)

<em>And then I remembered how you ruined it.

"Stop," I told Clay. And my hands stopped pulling him in. </em>(11.229-230)

Hannah wants to be with Clay because she cares for him and thinks he cares for her. She doesn't necessarily want to have sex with him, but she does want to enjoy what she's feeling. But her still-fresh memories of Justin and the pain he caused her make this seem impossible.

Chapter 14
Hannah Baker

<em>You were touching me… but I was using you. I needed you, so I could let go of me completely. </em>(14.133)

Why did Hannah have sex with Bryce? Clay thinks it's because she knew it would be another reason to kill herself – just one more step toward self-destruction.

<em>For everyone listening, let me be clear. I did not say no or push his hand away. All I did was turn my head, clench my teeth, and fight back tears. And he saw that. He even told me to relax. </em>(14.134)

Why does Hannah tell her listeners that she didn't resist Bryce's advances? Is she trying to let Bryce off the hook? Or is she trying to show them how terrible an experience it was for her?

Again, nice guy that he was, he didn't take advantage of the situation. He wanted to. He tried for the longest time to get a reaction out of her. […]

It dawned on him – finally – that she wasn't in a romantic mood and probably wouldn't be for a while. (12.29-30)

Unlike Bryce, Justin realizes that sex needs to be consensual – both people involved have to want it.