Me Before You

Me Before You Summary and Analysis of Chapters 23-24


It’s finally time for the long-awaited trip. It seems that Lou has pulled it off after all. Will’s dad drops him, Lou, and Nathan off at the airport. Lou is anxious about getting Will onto the flight, even though her new online friends have given her tons of travel tips and she’s got the whole trip planned perfectly. Lou isn’t sure she’s made the right decision about taking Will on a trip, since he’s only just recovered from his illness and is acting quiet and exhausted. Still, even if she wanted to, Lou couldn’t back down from her mission. She’s already spent days searching the chatrooms for places to go, until eventually her online friend Ritchie hooked her up with his cousin, a travel agent. Soon enough, after a lot of hard work, the trip was planned, leaving Lou with her last chance to change Will’s mind. The flight goes smoothly after all, and Lou sleeps for most of it.

When the plane lands, we find out where they’ve been headed: Mauritius. Lou barely registers the sights of the island when she arrives, since she’s so worried about Will, who is looking increasingly unwell. Still, when she arrives at her hotel she almost cries because the beach outside is so beautiful. Nathan, seeing how emotional she is, unexpectedly hugs and reassures her. Three days later, things start to improve, after Will gets a lot of sleep. He’s enjoying himself, and dares Lou to try new foods, which reminds her that travel is actually his area of expertise. The three travelers spend long days on the beach, perfectly accommodated by a special wheelchair and kindly hotel staff. They eat delicious food and watch Nathan waterski. Will is even able to go swimming with help, and seems both mentally and physically to have improved. In fact, he seems more at peace than Lou’s ever seen him. Nathan quietly points out to Lou that this vacation has turned out to be a huge success, but Lou doesn’t even want to talk about it. She’s decided not to think about her goal, and to try to enjoy herself so that Will can enjoy himself too. Nathan is certainly enjoying himself, since he starts dating a woman at a nearby hotel named Karen. This gives our two main characters some much-needed alone time. When Nathan lets Karen stay over in his room, Will and Lou end up sharing. Will tells Lou not to bother sleeping on the couch, since his bed has plenty of room. Just as she’s about to get into bed, it starts storming. Will asks Lou to open the doors so they can watch the storm, which turns out to be a huge one. They lie in bed holding hands and watch the rain until Will drops off to sleep. On their final day in Mauritius, Lou goes scuba diving, not because she wants to but because Will bugs her to. At first she’s panicky and can’t stay under the water, but soon enough she finds herself stunned by the beauty and strangeness of the experience, to Will’s quiet satisfaction.

That night, Lou gets drunk. She allows herself to because Will seems to be doing so well that she can afford to let loose a bit. She also dresses up a bit, and Will seems appreciative of her look. They go down to the beach for the night, though Nathan has gone off with Karen. Will and Lou talk about how glad they are that they’ve come on this trip, and then Lou kicks off her shoes and starts dancing with abandon. When she’s done, she climbs onto Will’s lap. He doesn’t resist, in fact, he tells her that she’s “something else.” Lou kisses Will, and he kisses her back. For a moment it’s all Lou wanted and more, but then Will firmly tells her that they can’t continue.

Lou asks him to explain, since their kiss was clearly wonderful on both ends. Will says that any relationship between them would only be a reminder of his disability. Lou tries to explain that she doesn’t mind, and tells Will that she loves him, but he responds by trying to tell her about his plan to commit suicide. She tells him she already knows, and that she’s thought of ways that they can be happy together, since Will makes her into a better person. But Will tells her that he’s still going through with the plan. As happy as Lou makes him, the life he’s leading isn’t right for him. Besides, he says, Lou deserves a chance to live without being tied to him, especially since his condition will only deteriorate further. He tells her that he’s going to Dignitas in less than a week, and that he would like her to go to Switzerland with him. This makes Lou so angry that she walks away, leaving Will calling after her in his wheelchair.

We jump ahead to the next day in the airport and find out that Lou isn’t even speaking to Will. Nathan notices and finds out that Will still plans on going through with his assisted suicide. He’s not happy, but he’s able to act completely normal around Will, and ends up doing most of the work that Lou usually does. Lou feels that she’s somehow failed to change Will’s mind and that she isn’t good enough for him, and she dreads breaking the bad news to his family. Will spends the flight trying to get back on her good side, to no avail. Will’s family is waiting at the airport, and his parents look relieved, since Will himself looks completely healthy and happy. They invite Lou out to a group dinner, but she insists rather bluntly on leaving. Mrs. Traynor follows her as she walks out, and when she tries to speak to Lou, Lou more or less tells her that Will has been resolute in his choice. Mrs. Traynor is so shocked that she almost faints, but Lou, unable to deal with anything more, walks away.


These two chapters are a complete whirlwind, with some of the most dramatic mood shifts in the book. We begin with pure suspense as our characters arrive at the airport, with Will fresh out of the hospital. In fact, we have no idea where the plane is headed. The only clue we have is a passing remark, by Lou, about a moment of recognition back when the travel agent suggested the place. By not telling us where the plane is going, Moyes places the reader in Lou’s mindset. She’s so stressed about the journey she can hardly think about the destination, and we can’t either. When it’s finally revealed that they’ve landed in Mauritius, attentive readers might experience a jolt of recognition as well. Back in chapter fourteen, Will mentioned it to Lou in a list of his favorite destinations. Lou has listened to Will and remembered what he has to say, which is a big deal, since Will hates when people ignore what he has to say. This also parallels the earlier scene in which Will gives Lou a present of bee-striped tights. Just as Will is particularly attentive to Lou’s passion for clothes, Lou is attentive to Will’s passion for travel.

Eventually, the suspense winds down a bit. Moyes drives us into a calmer mood by doing a kind of action detox. She describes the beauty of the island and the peacefulness of the characters’ routines, but holds us at arm's length by writing paragraphs of detailed description rather than scenes full of real-time action and dialogue. This lets the reader relax a bit, just as Will, Lou, and Nathan are relaxing during their vacation. By the time we zero back in on some action, we’ve been worked into a trance-like state. This means that, by the time Lou and Will share a bed and watch a rainstorm together, the reader’s concern about what this might mean for their relationship has been turned way down. Instead, like Lou, we’re simply caught up in the moment. Because of Will’s disability, their relationship has been almost all about conversation. This moment of physicality, because of their proximity to one another and to nature, adds a completely new dimension.

Lou’s assertion that “two things happened on the last day” brings back the suspense and subtly reminds us of the high stakes Lou is facing. The scene in which Lou scuba dives seems fairly unremarkable, and comes as a bit of a surprise after the dramatic lead-in, but makes sense retrospectively after the revelation that Will is still planning on dying. It shows Lou trying something new, and though she does it with Will’s encouragement she does it alone. In fact, Will wouldn’t be able to scuba dive even if he tried. The experience is incredible and even takes her mind off of Will. This showcases exactly what Will wants for Lou—to keep trying new things, even when he’s no longer by her side. The next event on the list, of course, is the big kiss and Will’s terrible news. By including these two events on a list together, Moyes nudges us to think about them as linked to one another. That way, even while Lou is unable to accept Will’s decision, we have the scuba diving scene in the back of our minds. It helps us to understand Will’s decision, even if it’s a disappointing one. In fact, Moyes has been subtly priming the reader to accept this decision for a while, by providing stories of other assisted suicides and a diverse range of perspectives from other quadriplegics. Still, Lou isn’t thinking about any of that. Her reaction is pure anger, which might come as a surprise, given that sadness or disappointment seem more expected in this situation. Mrs. Traynor’s reaction of simply fainting, in fact, is less surprising. But Lou’s anger is her way of avoiding grief. By being mad at Will, she’s paradoxically able to continue interacting with him. After all, you can’t have a fight with a person who isn’t there. It’s only when she stops being angry that she’ll have to confront the possibility of living without him.