Me Before You

Me Before You Essay Questions

  1. 1

    How does Me Before You portray the intertwined issues of class and disability?

    Each of the main characters in Me Before You is disadvantaged in a different way and advantaged in another. Will is extraordinarily wealthy, but debilitatingly disabled. Lou is poor, but has no disabilities or illnesses. Each one occasionally insults or misunderstands the other due to these differences, but they are also able to offer one another help, Will by contributing money and the resources of upper-class existence, Lou by helping Will move through the physical world more easily. Though each character faces individual struggles, they flourish most when able to help one another according to their separate abilities.

  2. 2

    Does Me Before You offer a positive or negative perspective on assisted suicide?

    No two characters in Me Before You seem to agree on the issue of assisted suicide. Lou's mother seems unequivocally opposed to it, while one of Lou's friends in an online chatroom understands the impulse to commit suicide without doing so himself. Will considers it his right to die when he chooses. He seems simultaneously aware of the pain that his death will cause others and convinced that his death will make others' lives easier. The book ties Will's suicide to the larger political and ethical issue, placing it in the context of a nationwide controversy about physician-assisted suicide. In fact, the assisted-suicide service that Will uses exists in real life. The book engages with assisted suicide as a controversial, nuanced issue.

  3. 3

    What is Lou's relationship with her sister?

    Lou and her sister Treena are extraordinarily close. In times of uncertainty, Treena is the first person Lou turns to for a listening ear and advice. However, the two fight often. Much of their fighting comes from a feeling of competition, since the two feel the need to divvy up their family's scarce resources. Lou is supportive of her sister's education, but feels resentful of the fact that Treena, always considered the more intelligent sibling, gets to attend college while Lou earns money for the family. Treena, meanwhile, supports her sister and helps her apply to college herself, but can be impatient and hard-headed, making it difficult for Lou to make her own decisions. The sisters' relationship becomes closer as Lou comes into her own over the course of the novel, but it also endures several rough patches, since both Lou and Treena are learning to make their voices heard and pursue their ambitions.

  4. 4

    What are the respective significances of the tattoos that Will and Lou each get?

    Lou chooses to get a tattoo of a bee, an animal that she tends to associate with herself. The bee is a reference to her beloved black-and-yellow tights, which are emblematic of her love of fashion. More broadly, the bee's ability to fly symbolizes Lou's newfound independence and adventurousness, while its industriousness symbolizes her own loyalty and hard work on behalf of her loved ones. Will's tattoo jokingly refers to the date of his accident. It speaks to his feelings of depression and his sense that his life has been changed unalterably for the worse. However, the tattoo's wording is witty: Will uses humor to make his situation easier. His dark, dry sense of humor can be disarming and occasionally cruel. This tattoo, while not unkind, does express a dark humor, causing Lou to feel torn between tears and laughter.

  5. 5

    How does Camilla Traynor's job inform and reflect her worldview?

    As a magistrate, Camilla meets all manner of people facing legal consequences for various infractions. She has no patience for analysis of the social ills that might cause people to break the law. Though she acknowledges that people face difficult circumstances and might be driven to misbehavior, she ultimately feels that individuals are in control of their own choices. In her opinion, the world operates on a fairly strict moral binary. Camilla steps down from her job after her son's death. While there are legal and professional reasons for her to do so, it also makes sense personally that she would not continue to work as a magistrate, since Will's disability and death caused her to reevaluate her rigid moral code.