Finch misses the turnoff, so he drives right over the median to fix his mistake. In a tiny town, Finch parks and leads Violet to an abandoned factory. When they get close, Violet sees that someone wrote “Before I die…” on the wall. After that, there are columns of “Before I die I want to ___” with people’s desires filled in. Finch and Violet read what people have written, and then Finch gives Violet a piece of chalk. He says that they’re going to fill a lot of lines so they can figure out why they’re here. He starts writing about wanting to “find the Great Manifesto,” “count for something,” and “matter.” Violet writes that she wants to drive, write, breathe, and stop being afraid.
Finch doesn’t say so outright, but bringing Violet to this spot is an attempt to get her to focus on all the reasons her life is worth living. Asking her to think about and write down all the things she’d like to do someday essentially gives Violet a goal—she has to stay alive so she can accomplish these things, at the very least. Writing these things down and sharing them with Finch also makes them seem realer than they would if Violet kept them to herself.
Finch leans over Violet’s shoulder and writes that he’d like to kiss her. Violet kind of wants him to; she hasn’t kissed many boys. But Finch says he’s not going to kiss her here, and he doesn’t like her like that anyway. Once they’re back on the road, Violet’s mind races. She keeps thinking about kissing Finch and wonders if she does like him. Back in Bartlett, Finch drives to the Quarry, where the bouncer lets them in without checking their IDs. Finch leads Violet to the dance floor, and Violet shouts at him that she doesn’t like him, either. Finch laughs.
As Violet’s thoughts start to shift from grieving Eleanor to being excited about her budding relationship with Finch, her desire to live increases. Further, Finch writing that he’d like to kiss Violet gives them both something to look forward to. It increases the tension between them, and it also ensures that Violet is going to agree to see Finch again.