The images used to describe Lou's original job at the Buttered Bun convey feelings of warmth, nourishment, and security. This helps to demonstrate that, at the start of the novel, Lou is at rest in a place of safety and domesticity, in contrast to the adventure she experiences later. Lou likes “the fuggy bacon-scented warmth” here, and “the small bursts of cool air” when the door opens. These minor shifts in temperature show that Lou's sensory experience is stable with only minor variations. The cafe's walls are covered “in scenes from the castle up on the hill.” The relative vagueness of this last image reminds us that, within the cafe, even the castle feels distant. In total, all of the imagery of this cafe evokes associations with the comforts and familiarities of home, so that Lou's departure from the place feels like a departure from a childhood home.
The Traynors' Home
Images of Granta House usually convey that it is a place of intimidating grandeur and, at the same time, sterility and coldness. Lou's first impression of it is that "it was bigger than I had imagined, red brick with a double front, the kind of house you saw in old copies of Country Life while waiting at the doctor’s." The comparison to a house from a magazine insinuates that the place lacks the warmth of a typical family home, and Moyes' choice to use only visual imagery completes the impression that the house is to be looked at rather than lived in. When Lou walks inside, she finds "a huge room with floor to ceiling French windows. Heavy curtains draped elegantly from fat mahogany curtain poles, and the floors were carpeted with intricately decorated Persian rugs. It smelt of beeswax and antique furniture." Most of these images are still visual, adding to the sense that the house is on display. These images emphasize largeness and heaviness, which give the impression of power and seriousness. The smells that Lou notices, meanwhile, are not created by people inhabiting the house, but rather come from the maintenance of the home's appearance, confirming her feeling that the home is used to impress visitors rather than to give comfort to the family within.
Pain and Illness
Some of the most vivid images in the novel are used to demonstrate Will's discomfort, making it hard for us to ignore the day-to-day trials of his physical existence. When Lou first sees him in a state of real sickness, she informs us that "There was a faint sheen of sweat on his cheekbone. I put my hand out, his duvet felt vaguely hot and sweaty." Later, Lou lists the types of pain he typically endures. They include "a stomach ulcer from taking too many painkillers early on in his recovery, when he apparently popped them like Tic Tacs." The image of Will eating candy contrasts with the unpleasant mention of a stomach ulcer, highlighting the seriousness of his situation. Shortly after, Lou says that the worst pain comes from "a burning sensation in his hands and feet; relentless, pulsing..." The words burning and pulsing give the impression that this pain is active and independent. Perhaps the book's most upsetting image is of Will's wrist after his suicide attempt, which his mother describes as "sliced to ribbons." The simile conveys the fact that Will is so mangled, in at least one body part, as to not appear human, and the image of a generally pleasant thing like ribbons highlights the situation's frightening reality.
Lou's idiosyncratic fashion sense gets described with vivid, detailed imagery, showing us not just what her clothing looks like but that she cares a great deal about everything she wears. In one scene, Lou tells us that she "was wearing the very shaggy waistcoat thing that Dad says makes me look like an emu." The description of the coat's shagginess shows that Lou pays attention to what she wears, but her inclusion of the emu comparison lets us know that she doesn't take herself too seriously, and knows that other people might not understand her sense of style. Later, Lou wears "my French peasant’s jacket in indigo denim, a minidress and a pair of army boots." The detail she puts into this description, down to the shade of denim, lets us know that she loves and cares about her clothing, and finds it important to do it justice descriptively. Color plays an important part in these clothing descriptions, since Lou's outfits are marked by joyful expressiveness and tend to come in vivid colors. Her 'artistic' outfit is, for example, "a green smock dress with huge amber beads stitched into it." By the time Lou decides to pursue fashion professionally, we've seen her describe her clothes in so much detail that we can imagine her as one of the pros.
Lou and Will each show their love of their favorite destinations by describing them vividly, using imagery from all five senses. In Mauritius, Lou is struck by the smell in the air, which she describes as "smoky and gingery," the blue of the sea and green of the land, and the spicy taste of the food she tries. Lou enjoys the sound of birdsong and the feeling of the sun on her back. We are given to understand that she's feeling joyful and relaxed, since she's able to take in all of this sensory detail and describe it in such a lush fashion. When Will writes Lou a letter to read after his death, he offers an equally intense description of the sidewalk cafe he wants her to go to, saying "I hope the coffee is good and strong and the croissants fresh and that the weather is still sunny enough to sit outside on one of those metallic chairs that never sit quite level on the pavement." By describing the cafe with such vivid imagery, Will signals that he cares about the place a great deal, and also shows that he lives largely through detailed memories of the time before his accident.
Me Before You Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Me Before You is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
Will Traynor is a quadriplegic, who led a life full of excitement and adventure prior to his injury- he worked a high profile job in finance, and enjoyed travel and extreme sports. After being injured in a motorcycle accident he became a recluse...