Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Imagery

Listening to the Tapes

It’s safe to say that not many people have had to listen to the suicide note of someone they liked or admired. Listening to Hannah’s tapes has visceral, gut-wrenching, and far-reaching impacts on Clay and the rest of the baker’s dozen. In order to convey to the reader the feelings and sensations Hannah’s tapes evoke, Asher describes in detail Clay’s mental and physical reactions to Hannah’s story. For example, when Clay begins listening, all of his limbs and appendages “feel hollow,” and he doesn’t have “enough strength to press a single button on the stereo” (17). Here, we can see how difficult it is to even press play on Hannah’s tapes. Later on, Asher describes how Clay develops a severe migraine and vomits because of what he hears. By doing this, Asher makes links between Clay’s unique situation and anyone that has ever had a migraine or been sick.

Tyler’s Peeping

One of the most painful episodes from Hannah’s experiences in Crestmont is Tyler stalking and spying on her through her bedroom window. For Hannah, school had long stopped being a comfortable or safe place for her, and so her home had become even more of a safe harbor. But with his peeping, Tyler took away the last remaining place that was “safe from everything outside” (140). His actions played a significant role in Hannah’s decision to commit suicide. Hannah proves this by describing in detail Tyler’s illicit photo-taking sessions on her tapes. She talks about the first menacing “click” of his camera, and how she initially refused to believe what was happening, because it was “too creepy” (125). She shares her reasoning for not calling the cops, and her fright at the thought of the Peeping Tom becoming aggressive. And finally, she explains how she changed her habits, going so far as to change her clothes under her bed sheets, in order to hide from Tyler’s gaze. All of these details illustrate Tyler’s gross trespass on Hannah’s life, privacy, and peace of mind.

Clay’s Headache

When Clay goes to Blue Spot Liquor, he begins to develop a piercing, somewhat debilitating pain above his eyebrow. This pain is at times “a pinching,” other times “a pounding,” and sometimes “a throbbing” sensation (11, 78, and 439, respectively). Asher uses the participles of “pinching,” “pounding,” and “throbbing” to depict Clay’s pain. Curiously, the spot on Clay’s face where his acute migraine starts from mirrors the spot on Hannah’s face where Jessica scratched her. Hannah had a tiny scar above her eyebrow in the shape of Jessica’s fingernail because of Jessica’s attack, a scar that haunted Hannah. Now, it seems that scar is haunting Clay as well.

Hannah’s Valentine’s Day

On Valentine’s Day, Hannah agrees to go on a date with Marcus in spite of his reputation and her suspicions about his friend group. She reasons, she should give him a chance and trust him because that’s what she wants people to do with her. Unfortunately for Hannah, her fears and reservations prove correct. Not only does Marcus initially stand her up, he also sexually assaults her when he finally arrives. But before he arrives at Rosie’s, Hannah sits and waits thirty minutes for him. Every detail and sensation of those cringeworthy, embarrassing, and sad thirty minutes is described in Hannah’s tapes. Everything from the pitying glances of the other diners at Rosie’s, to the feeling of frenetically digging a spoon into an ice cream shake, to Hannah hysterically telling herself to calm down, is described. Similar to Hannah wanting the baker’s dozen to relive her experience by going to Rosie’s themselves, Asher wants readers to experience the situation from Hannah’s perspective as well.