Hannah is the protagonist of the story. She committed suicide for thirteen reasons, or rather, thirteen people. She tells their stories on tapes and sends them to the first people on her list. This person was to pass it on to the next after he or she listened to the whole set of thirteen tapes. Initially outspoken and confident with a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, Hannah is torn down by the bullying and gossiping of her peers. By the time of her death, she is self-sabotaging, incredibly insecure, and depressed.
Clay is the ninth person on the list. He is the narrator of the story along with Hannah. As he listens to Hannah's tapes, Clay describes his emotions, thoughts, and reactions to her story. In the end, it turns out that Hannah wanted Clay to just listen to the tapes; he was not a reason for her suicide. A bit reserved and shy, Clay is widely acknowledged as "a genuinely good guy." He had a crush on Hannah, but was afraid of pursuing her because her reputation made him believe she was out of his league.
Tony is Clay's closest friend and the one who receives the second set of tapes. He has to make sure each person on the list follows Hannah's instructions. If they don't, he is tasked with releasing the second set of tapes to the whole town, thereby exposing the secrets they hold to everyone.
Justin is the first person on Hannah's list. He is also the tenth. Justin was Hannah's first kiss, a moment that Hannah initially treasured. However, Justin embellished the story of their kiss and caused rumours about Hannah around the school. These rumors were the very first elements of the snowball of lies and betrayals that ruined Hannah's life. Later on the in the novel, Justin, along with Hannah, stand by and allow Bryce to rape Jessica.
Alex is the second person on Hannah's list. Also new to Crestmont, Alex, along with Jessica Davis, were Hannah's first friends at school. As the school year progressed, their trifecta fell apart and he fell off of Hannah's grid. He appeared again on her radar when he named her "Best Ass in the Freshman Class" on a list. Alex's inclusion of Hannah on his list severed Hannah's relationship with Jessica and made the other boys at school think they had certain rights to Hannah's body. As a result, Hannah felt used and humiliated.
Along with Alex, Jessica was one of Hannah's first friends in Crestmont. At first, Jessica seemed like a pretty strong girl, but her insecurity and lack of self-confidence were exposed when she attacked Hannah over Alex's list. When Jessica hit Hannah, she not only signified the end of their friendship, but left Hannah with a physical and emotional scars. Later on in the novel, Jessica was raped by Bryce Walker. Jessica is the third recipient of Hannah's tapes.
As the student life photographer for school, Tyler has a wide collection of cameras and lenses. Unfortunately for Hannah, her false reputation for promiscuity drove Tyler to spy on her like a Peeping Tom. He stalked and spied on Hannah from outside her bedroom, and took pictures of her for his own pleasure. By invading Hannah's privacy in her house, Tyler took away one of the last few places where Hannah felt safe and at peace. For this reason, he is the fourth person on Hannah's list.
One of the most popular and well-liked people in school, Courtney is actually fake and manipulative. After helping Hannah expose Tyler as a Peeping Tom, she spread rumors that Hannah has sex paraphernalia in her bedroom drawers. She betrayed Hannah again and again, and made Hannah doubt her ability to make "real" friends. Courtney is the fifth person on Hannah's list.
During the school Valentine’s Day survey, Marcus matched with Hannah and asked her out on a date. He initially stood her up, but eventually showed up 30 minutes late. As they sat in a booth at Rosie’s, Marcus tried to touch Hannah without her permission. She shoved him away, and he called her a tease in front of the entire restaurant.
Zach is the seventh person on Hannah's list. He started out in the beginning by trying to calm her down from the Rosie's incident with Marcus. When she rejected him, Zach stole Hannah's encouragement notes from the Peer Communication class. That was the only hope left for Hannah, and it was taken away.
Ryan is number eight on Hannah's list, and the curator of the school's anonymous collection of creative writing. Ryan and Hannah used to read each other's poetry and try to discern their meanings. When Hannah shared a particularly stirring and poignant poem, Ryan betrayed her and published her poem anonymously without her permission. The poem was spread widely around school and everyone, including teachers, dissected it and it's unknown author. Though no one besides Ryan (and whoever he may have told) knew Hannah was the author, she still felt exposed, attacked, and betrayed.
Jenny is first introduced as a kind cheerleader who is friendly to Hannah, but later on in the tapes her role in Hannah’s story takes a turn. The night of the catastrophic party, Jenny drove drunk and knocked over a stop sign at an intersection. This caused a car accident later in the night that resulted in the death of a senior from their school. This death weighed heavily on Hannah’s consciousness and became another reason why she decided to commit suicide.
Though he will not receive the tapes, Bryce is number twelve on the list. Throughout the tapes Hannah hints that he was one of her baker's dozen, but his full connection to her story isn't revealed until the catastrophic party. Bryce raped Jessica at the party when she was drunk, while Justin and Hannah stood by and did nothing. This is the reason he cannot receive the tapes because he most likely will not follow Hannah's rules and pass the tapes along. Besides raping Jessica, he also pressured Hannah to have sex with him in a hot tub at Courtney's house, and was the first person to assault Hannah following the release of Alex's list. Because of Bryce, Hannah no longer felt in control of her own body.
Mr. Porter was Hannah's guidance counselor, who she turned to for help in one final effort to save herself. Unfortunately, he ended up telling her to go on and forget about what happened. But this was impossible. How could Hannah get over what happened? He will be the last one to receive the tapes, and according to Hannah, he can take them "straight to hell" (39).
Kat was Hannah’s neighbor. She was Hannah’s first friend in Crestmont because of their close proximity to each other, but she moved away before the start of school. Kat was the person that introduced Hannah to Justin Foley, thus starting the chain of events that led to Hannah’s suicide.
Andrea is a minor character and mentioned only fleetingly. She gave Clay his first kiss in seventh grade for a $10 bet.
Called "Jackass Jimmy" by his classmates, Jimmy is another minor character in the book. He was the first person to make a public remark about Alex naming Hannah "Best Ass in the Freshman Class."
Wally is a store attendant at Blue Spot Liquor, Hannah’s go-to store for her daily candy fix. He was present when Bryce smacked Hannah’s butt, and was deeply angered by Bryce’s behavior.
Angela is another classmate of Hannah and Clay. After she was named "Best Lips" on Alex’s list, Clay became fascinated by her mouth and was determined to kiss her. Clay’s fascination with Angela helps him understand Hannah’s point about the negative impacts of Alex’s list.
Ms. Antilly was Hannah’s guidance counselor at the beginning of freshman year, but she left Crestmont for another school district. Mr. Porter replaced her. Ms. Antilly was the person who introduced Hannah to Jessica, in the hope that the two girls could support each other during their first days at a new school. Ms. Antilly was clearly more attentive and competent as a guidance counselor than Mr. Porter, and Hannah wonders if things would have ended differently if she hadn’t left Crestmont.
Mrs. Bradley is the teacher of Peer Communications, the one class in school that was a safe haven for Hannah. Mrs. Bradley’s zero-tolerance policy for bullying and laughing kept Hannah safe from her peers’ snickering, gossiping, and sexual advances.
Skye was Clay’s eighth-grade crush, but over the years she withdrew from school society. At the end of the novel, after listening to Hannah’s tapes, Clay realizes that Skye might be having the same traumatic experiences as Hannah. Determined not to repeat his past mistakes, he calls after Skye before she can slip away like Hannah did.
Thirteen Reasons Why Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Thirteen Reasons Why is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Hannah's rules are simple. The first is that the tapes be listened to.... the second, that they be passed onto the next person on her list. The consequences for not following the rules is that the tapes themselves will be made public by someone...