Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Essay Questions

  1. 1

    What roles do love and sex play in Thirteen Reasons Why?

    Love is used as a weapon in Thirteen Reasons Why. The impetus for the gossip and bad reputation surrounding Hannah was her first kiss with Justin. Hannah placed a great deal of importance and significance on this kiss, and Justin threw it back in her face by lying to his friends about what happened during the kiss. Hannah was looking for love, and her desire for it ended up being used against her.

    The male characters in Thirteen Reasons Why use sex and physical intimacy as means of controlling the female characters. Justin, Marcus, and Bryce all attempt to subjugate and use Hannah’s body against her will. Justin claimed that he and Hannah were more sexually active than they actually were because he wanted to impress his friends. With his lies Justin controlled and shaped Hannah’s public persona. Alternatively, Marcus and Bryce both tried to control Hannah’s physical body with their unsolicited physical advances. For most of the novel Hannah rejects these advances, but by the end she gives in because she has completely given up on herself.

  2. 2

    If you were Tony, would you release the second set of tapes even if the people on Hannah’s list follow all of her instructions? Why or why not?

    Hannah promises the people on her list that if they fulfill her final requests, no one outside of the tapes will become privy to their contents. Though keeping promises and your word exhibits good moral fiber, the explosive content of tapes warrants further consideration. Tony should consider releasing the second set of tapes to the authorities because of the illegal and negligent acts they describe. Not only have some characters not paid for their mistakes, it also appears that they have not learned from them. For example, after raping Jessica, Bryce went on to sexually assault Hannah. He clearly feels no remorse or guilt over his actions, and needs to be stopped before he rapes someone else. Likewise, despite being negligent in his responsibilities as Hannah’s guidance counselor, Mr. Porter continues to work at Clay’s school in that role. Though Mr. Porter may not deserve to serve time in prison for his role in Hannah’s suicide, his ability as a guidance counselor should be reevaluated. If the tapes are not released, both of these characters could continue to wreak more havoc in the lives of the people around them.

  3. 3

    Analyze how Clay’s character is a foil to Hannah’s.

    A foil is a character who contrasts with another character in a way that highlights the characteristics of each. The biggest contrasting element between Clay and Hannah are their reputations. Part of Hannah’s fascination with Clay is the difference between their reputations. On Clay’s tape, Hannah describes how she never hears anything bad or “juicy” about Clay (312). He has a sterling reputation as a good, kind, and quiet guy. This is drastically dissimilar to Hannah’s tarnished reputation as a promiscuous, bad girl. Clay’s reputation acting as a foil to Hannah’s exposes how much of an impact reputation has on the high-school experience. Hannah’s reputation prevents her from finishing her high-school years in peace, whereas Clay’s under-the-radar reputation does not impede him on his quest to become valedictorian.

  4. 4

    Discuss the various forms of violence present in the novel.

    The violence imbedded in Thirteen Reasons Why has physical, emotional, and psychological forms. The physical violence in the book is easy to pinpoint with Bryce’s rape of Jessica and Marcus’s assault of Hannah. The emotional and psychological violence comes with the callous way Hannah’s peers gossiped about and ostracized her. Alex and Jessica’s betrayals meant that Hannah lost the only two people she called “friends” in Crestmont. The emotional pain of those two losses depressed Hannah, and led to psychological torment as well from the scar Jessica left on her face. Hannah’s spiraling depression and eventual suicide were further products of the emotional and psychological violence she received.

  5. 5

    What lasting impact do you think Hannah and her tapes have on her classmates?

    On her tapes, Hannah attempts to impart various lessons on her peers. Foremost among these lessons is the importance of understanding how your actions can have reverberating repercussions on the lives of others. Though Clay isn’t a perfect litmus test because he didn’t belong on Hannah’s list in the same way that the others did, it is important to note that Clay changed his behavior after listening to Hannah’s tapes. Though Hannah absolved him of any responsibility for her death, Clay still holds himself responsible because he failed to be a friend to Hannah when she needed one most. At the end of novel, it’s clear that Clay has learned from Hannah’s life and will let her message impact his future decisions.

    The impact of Hannah and her tapes on the other characters of Thirteen Reasons Why is unclear. Tony claims that he was able to tell who had the tapes based on that person’s physical appearance. This suggests that listening to the tapes had a physical impact on other people besides Clay. Whether or not the tapes influenced the behavior or thoughts of Hannah’s other peers is less certain. When Clay sees Marcus outside of Tyler’s house, he seems remorseless and unrepentant about his role in Hannah’s suicide. While Marcus cannot be considered as representative of everyone on the tapes, his behavior does call into question Hannah’s lasting impact on the people around her.