All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

by

Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places: 18. Finch: Day 15 (still) Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On the way to Violet’s house, Finch suggests epitaphs for people they know, like Amanda and Roamer. He asks what Violet’s epitaph would say. She says she doesn’t know, but her voice sounds faraway. She asks what Finch’s would be, and Finch says, “Theodore Finch, in search of the Great Manifesto.” He explains that this means he wants to count for something and “remain a memory.” Violet asks why he wasn’t in school on Friday, and Finch claims that he had a headache, which isn’t a total lie. His headaches aren’t normal headaches—his brain seems to go too fast, and he can see, hear, and feel everything. When he tried to tell Kate about it once, she suggested it was Finch’s dad’s fault for hitting him. Finch knows this isn’t true: his headaches are all part of his “godlike brain.”
Because readers know that Finch is still seriously considering suicide, his insistence that he wants to matter and “remain a memory” may alarm readers. It suggests that Finch might act out at school in part so that people won’t forget him when he's gone. Furthermore, Kate seems to imply that Finch’s headaches are the result of physical trauma, like a concussion. But Finch says the headaches are part of his “godlike brain,” which suggests that he thinks of his headaches as an asset and something that makes him special.
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Violet asks if Finch is okay now, and Finch studies her. He knows it’s impossible to keep people from going away or dying, and he knows that no one can keep him awake or stop him from sleeping. But he likes her. He says he thinks he’s okay.
Again, there’s a major disconnect here because readers know that Finch could go back into a period of being “asleep” (depressed) any time—but Violet doesn’t. Not confiding in her means that Violet doesn’t have all the information she might need to help him.
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When Finch gets home, he checks the landline voicemail. There’s a message from Mr. Embry informing Finch’s mom that Finch missed his Friday counseling session—and he’s concerned because he saw the Bartlett Dirt. Finch erases the message and then goes to his room to contemplate hanging. He’s too tall, unless he hangs himself in the basement—but then it might be months before his mom or sisters find him. Finch shares that hanging is a popular suicide method in the UK, since people think it’s quick and easy. But this isn’t actually true: if the rope isn’t the right length, it’s horrible. A judicial hanging, meanwhile, is known as “the Long Drop.”
Erasing the message from Mr. Embry is a way of Finch manipulating his support network to make it less effective. Though Finch has already called his mom’s willingness or ability to intervene into question, making sure she doesn’t get Mr. Embry’s messages is a surefire way to keep her from even trying to help. Contemplating hanging, meanwhile, reminds readers that Finch isn’t becoming any less interested in suicide just because he’s spending time with Violet.
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Finch thinks a long drop is what it feels like to go to “Sleep.” He goes from Awake to Asleep all at once; everything stops. Sometimes there are warnings, like the headaches. Space starts to feel weird and loud. A few years ago, Finch asked his then-best friend Gabe Romero is he ever felt sound or saw headaches, or if he ever thought jumping in front of a car would make it stop. Finch had asked Roamer to try it with him because he thought he wasn’t real and was therefore invincible. But Roamer told his parents, and before long, everyone knew. Finch became Theodore Freak, and he’s never going to grow out of that label.
As Finch talks about the clues that another period of “Asleep” (depression) is coming, he gives readers important warning signs to look out for going forward—since he’s experiencing headaches now, it suggests that Finch is starting to decline and get closer to the Asleep. Then, Finch reveals why he and Roamer are sworn enemies: Roamer was the one who first made Finch feel like his mental health issues made him weird and lesser.
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Related Quotes
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This is why Finch pretends to be normal, even though he knows he’s different. He tells himself it’s his own fault that he can’t be normal, like Roamer or Ryan. Finch stands on a chair, imagining the Asleep coming. He decides that his room is too big; small spaces are better. He moves furniture around to cut his room in half and make it smaller. Though Finch’s mom, Decca, and Kate are all home, nobody asks what he’s doing. The last time any of them were in Finch’s room was four years ago. He had the flu, and Kate took care of him.
The stigma surrounding mental health issues makes Finch feel like it is his fault for not being “normal”—though it’s clear that he has no fault in or control over his illness. Again, the consequence of this stigma is that Finch feels unable to get help. And when he talks about how disinterested his sisters and mom are, he also implies that even if he were to ask for help, he may not receive it.
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