Study Guide

will grayson in Will Grayson, Will Grayson

By John Green and David Levithan

will grayson

The second will grayson we meet in this story—lowercase will grayson, if you will—is a whole lot different from the first one. Well, maybe not. Besides sharing a name, both of these guys have to go on pretty big journeys to get to where they are on the final page of the book.

The Glass is Definitely Half-Empty

will narrates his entire story in lowercase letters (which is why we write his name that way—it also helps to distinguish him from the other Will Grayson in the book). But why is this? Well, it could be that will just doesn't give a crud about the rules of grammar, but it could also be that he feels kind of small, like maybe he's less than other people. Oh, that's sad.

Let's take a look at will at the start of the book. He's suffering from depression and constantly thinks about how the world would be a better place if he just died already. He avoids talking to his mom even though she obviously cares about him; he also has hardly any friends and doesn't seem to want any:

if i had actual friends that i felt i could talk to, this might cause some conflict. but since right now there'd only need to be one car to take people to my funeral, i think it's okay. (2.56)

Well that's depressing. Lonely much, will?

The one person will does have in his life is Isaac. This is a boy whom will only knows online, but though they've never met or even spoken on the phone, will is totally head-over-heels in love with the guy. So in love, in fact, that he totally ignores all the warning signs. See, will is totally being catfished, but he doesn't seem to care—Isaac makes him happy and he's cool with keeping the illusion (or more like delusion) going for as long as possible.

Part of will's investment in Isaac stems from the fact that, even though will never comes out and says it directly, he's struggling with the fact that he's gay. Isaac knows that will is into boys, but no one else does because, like the other Will Grayson, will just won't open up to anyone. Maybe it's because he thinks he doesn't matter, or maybe it's because he's afraid of how people will treat him if they know the truth. Then again, maybe it has to do with something he tells Tiny:

me: yeah, but. i dunno. i don't like gay people.
tiny: but surely you must like yourself?

Oh man—will is navigating some internalized homophobia, it seems, which likely contributes to his isolation. If you don't feel lovable, how they heck are you ever supposed to believe other people might love you? That's a heavy load for a seventeen-year-old to carry.

Love Can Change A Person

The turning point for will comes when he discovers the truth about Isaac: Isaac is really Maura playing some weird game. will is completely devastated (and we're right there with him), but then he meets Tiny Cooper:

i can't help but think about isaac, and how even though this whole tiny thing is an interesting development, all-in-all things still suck in a tornado-destroyed-my-home kind of way. tiny's like the one room left standing. i feel i owe him something for that. (10.87)

Before Tiny, the only person who made will feel worthwhile was Isaac. Now, here's a cute boy telling will that not only is he a good person who deserves to be loved, but that he really likes him. This is will's first chance at a real relationship and he takes it. Even though things don't work out between will and Tiny, this is the baby step will needs in order to start opening up to other people.

After meeting Tiny, will comes out to his mom and to his friends at school. And he's pleasantly surprised that nothing bad happens because of it. His mom still loves him; his friends don't seem to mind. He even makes some new friends because of it (we're looking at you, Gideon). In other words, when will opens himself up and tells the world who he really is, the entire universe doesn't collapse around him. Go figure.

New and Improved

Even though Tiny and will's relationship can't last, being in a real relationship is the thing that helps will find some peace with himself. He stops having so many negative thoughts; he doesn't talk about killing himself anymore; he's more understanding of other people. Plus, he finally tells his mom how much he loves her:

i do feel things. i feel everything. and i need to know i'm not alone. so i'm getting out the phone. i'm not even thinking about it. i'm pressing the number and i'm hearing the ring and as soon as it's answered, i'm shouting into the phone:


i'm screaming it, and it sounds so angry and so frightened and so pathetic and desperate. on the other end of the phone, my mother is asking me what's wrong, where am i, what's happening, and i'm telling her that i'm at home and that everything's a mess, and she's saying she'll be home in ten minutes, will i be okay for ten minutes? (16.116-118)

In the end, will learns to accept himself for who he is. He looks forward to a new relationship with Gideon, and he better understands what he wants out of life. Most importantly, though, he actually believes that he deserves something good. will might start out as a snarky pessimist, but he winds up thinking that life has a whole lot of possibilities. Yay.

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