Finch watches Violet leave and then sits on the floor of the shower. He can’t look at himself in the mirror. Then, Finch turns on his computer, even though the bright screen hurts his eyes. He reads his past messages with Violet, but the words don’t make sense. Finch then tries to read a downloaded version of The Waves. When that doesn’t make sense either, he tells himself it’s the computer, not him—but he can’t even read the print book he finds. Finch vows to stay awake, and he even considers calling Mr. Embry.
Finch’s mental health is clearly deteriorating. He feels increasingly lost as he realizes that he can’t read or make sense of language, no matter how he tries. In particular, reading his messages with Violet shows just how important Violet is to Finch, as he believes she’s worth staying awake for. But something stops Finch from asking Mr. Embry for help—presumably, his shame and unwillingness to admit that something is wrong.
Finch knows he could tell Finch’s mom how he’s feeling, but she’d tell him to take Advil and relax. In Finch’s family, sickness doesn’t exist unless there’s a fever. Finch’s mom always tells him he’s too sensitive and reminds him of the story of the cardinal. The cardinal kept flying into the living room windows and little Finch begged his parents to bring it inside. When the cardinal died, Finch said that it wouldn’t have happened if his parents had let the bird inside. Finch doesn’t want to hear about the cardinal again. He knows the bird would’ve died if it came inside too, because everything good dies in the Finch family. Finch goes for a run, and when he gets back, he paints his ceiling blue.
Here, the novel explains the roots of Finch’s shame. His family doesn’t believe that mental illness is real, since it’s not measurable in the same way a physical illness is. And in addition, they also explain away anything concerning about Finch by insisting that he's just sensitive. As a result, Finch has learned that he can’t trust his family. Especially after what happened to the cardinal, Finch believes that it’s normal for bad things to happen in his family—another statement that foreshadows tragic events to come.