Spring brings tourists to the sleepy town of Stortfold’s castle and Lou enjoys the exotic breath they bring to her quiet life. She cheerfully greets Will, excited for their outing to the horse race at a close by arena. Nathan is pretending that he’s never been, trying to give Will a reason why they have to go. Will tries to refuse, but Lou, wearing a horse-patterned dress, insists that she needs to bet on Man Oh Man and claim her winnings.
Lou again has a natural affinity for adventure outside of her small town, even if she herself has never left. Lou shows real initiative for the first time in the novel, planning the trip for Will despite his misgivings. Lou also gives Will a reason outside of his own enjoyment to go along with this outing, assuming (correctly) that Will will refuse to go for his own sake.
Lou thought she had planned everything perfectly, but trouble starts as soon as they reach the parking lot of the racing grounds. The wet grass is too soft for Will’s wheelchair and Nathan has to essentially carry Will and his chair to the entrance, only to find that the disabled entrance is on the other side of the grounds. Still, Lou remains cheerful until Will tells her that she is being exhausting.
Lou has the best intentions, but she is not yet fully aware of all the struggles that Will is facing. Out in public, Will has to face again that he has almost no agency over his own life, down to the inability to make it out of a parking lot under his own power. This helplessness is extremely disappointing to the once powerful Will.
Lou goes quiet, busying herself with watching the crowd of people from all different classes at the racing grounds. The first race starts and Lou excitedly cheers her horse on, but Man Oh Man comes in sixth. Will looks pained so they decide to go have lunch. Will blanches at the thought of being spoon-fed in front of strangers, but Lou presses on until the hostess tells her that their blue badges won’t allow them to enter the Premiere restaurant.
Man Oh Man’s loss is another example of how Lou’s expectations for the day will not come true. This book as a whole is not a miracle underdog story, and Man Oh Man’s loss foreshadows that Lou may not be able to “win” in the end. The blue badges are another sign of how money appears to Lou to make life easier, but does not actually satisfy Will.
Despite Will’s protests, Lou tries to buy the right badges for the Premiere restaurant, but the hostess snottily tells Lou that tickets like that are only sold across the racing grounds. Nathan breaks in to tell Lou that Will really just wants to go home. They leave the restaurant, buying pork buns from one of the food stalls on their way out. Will remains quiet and Nathan tells Lou again that they should get home.
Thanks to the Traynors, Lou might have enough money for the right badges, but the attitude of the snobby hostess shows that money still will not solve Will’s struggles. At the same time, it’s important to keep in mind that his life is certainly easier than it would be if he had the same accident but wasn’t extremely wealthy.
As Lou and Nathan try to wheel Will across the parking lot, his chair gets stuck in the mud. Despite her reluctance to talk to strange men, Lou corrals some drunk men at a bachelor party to help carry Will and his chair to the car. She tells the men that Will was a former soldier who was injured fighting in Iraq and the men leap to assist. Only after they get Will into the car does Nathan notice the disabled parking section on smooth pavement.
Lou’s shyness around the bachelor party seems odd, given that she is usually so chatty—which suggests that she has a reason to be nervous around large groups of drunk men. Lou lies about Will’s injury in order to valorize Will for the boys, who otherwise might ignore a person in a wheelchair.
Back home, Will stays in a stony mood. When Lou asks him if anything is wrong, he responds that she should decide the answer to that, the way that she has made all the decisions today. Lou bristles, saying that she only wanted Will to have a fun day. Will scoffs, saying that if Lou had bothered to include him in her plans for his life, she would have found out that Will has always hated horses and horse racing. Will dismisses Lou for the day, criticizing her for deciding for him just like everyone else has since his accident.
Will’s greatest struggle is the lack of agency his accident has caused, and the way that people assume his paralysis prevents him from making decisions for himself. Lou may have Will’s best interests at heart, but she needs to take Will’s desires into account if she truly wants to help Will choose to keep living.