Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Metaphors and Similes

Baker’s Dozen (Metaphor)

A baker’s dozen is a set or group of thirteen items. The title of Thirteen Reasons Why is derived from the thirteen reasons Hannah Baker decides to commit suicide. Each of these thirteen reasons involves twelve specific people that influenced Hannah and her decision, for better and for worse. Thus, baker’s dozen is used as a pun and a metaphor for the people that drove Hannah to take her own life.

Snowball Effect (Metaphor)

The snowball effect is a commonly used metaphor in literature and in everyday life. It is used to describe how a small, seemingly insignificant event or issue can build in size and importance, until it is formidable and dangerous. Hannah uses the metaphor of the snowball effect to describe how a series of purportedly minor incidents joined together, grew in importance, and picked up speed, until they became a wrecking ball that bulldozed through her life.

Losing Control (Simile)

“Like driving along a bumpy road and losing control of the steering wheel, tossing you—just a tad—off the road. The wheels kick up some dirt, but you’re able to pull it back. Yet no matter how tightly you grip the wheel, no matter how hard you try to drive straight, something keeps jerking you to the side. You have so little control over anything anymore. And at some point, the struggle becomes too much—too tiring—and you consider letting go. Allowing tragedy… or whatever… to happen." (194)

Hannah draws a comparison between losing control of a car and losing control of her life to describe how and why she made her decision to commit suicide. As she says in her driving scenario, she tried again and again to wrestle back control and “drive straight,” but people and things kept pushing her off course. For example, she tries on Valentine’s Day to give the boys in Crestmont another chance, but both Marcus and Zach betray her. After being slapped by Jessica, she tries again with Courtney to make a female friend, but is used to increase Courtney’s popularity. Eventually, the struggling and holding fast to hope becomes too tiring for Hannah, and so she decides to give up on herself and her future.

Stream of Students (Simile)

“We took our place in the stream of students heading to the party—like joining a bunch of salmon heading upstream to mate.” (151)

In this simile, Hannah compares herself and her classmates to a school of salmon swimming mindlessly to the same destination. By reducing them to animals following a reproductive instinct, Hannah mocks their behavior and makes their motives for going to the party seem shady or undignified.

Poetry (Simile)

“I hated poetry until someone showed me how to appreciate it. He told me to see poetry as a puzzle. It’s up to the reader to decipher the code, or the words, based on everything they know about life and emotions.” (259)

Ryan uses a simile comparing poetry to a puzzle to explain how poetry works to Hannah. This is an apt comparison, because "it's up to the reader to decipher the code, or the words, based on everything they know about life and emotions." In other words, each word in the poem symbolizes something, and the words altogether make up a single message or whatever the poet wants to portray. Just like the puzzle pieces, where each one is a part of the whole puzzle, when the words are combined, they form one big, clear picture.