All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

by

Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places: 32. Finch: The first warm day Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
There’s a blizzard the second week of February. As it passes, Finch and Violet visit some nearby sights and build a huge snowman. On Valentine’s Day, Finch takes Violet to his favorite Chinese restaurant 15 miles away. The first warm day arrives on a Saturday, so Finch picks Violet up and takes her to the Blue Hole in Prairieton. He leads her over a hill to a round pool of water surrounded by trees. Finch explains that supposedly, the Blue Hole is either bottomless or has quicksand for a bottom. It’s supposed to suck people into an underground river or to another world. Lots of people have disappeared here.
Given what readers know about Finch’s relationship with water, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he’s so taken with the idea of a bottomless blue hole. Indeed, it encapsulates water’s symbolism in the novel: on the surface, it looks like a gorgeous place where he and Violet are going to connect and swim. But underneath, it represents danger and death. Here, life and death coexist in the same body of water.
Themes
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As Finch takes his shirt off, he says that bottomless blue holes like this exist worldwide and there are always myths associated with them. Violet agrees that it’s awesome they have one in Indiana, and she undresses to her bra and underwear. Finch is speechless, but he takes his pants off and leads Violet to a rock ledge. He asks what she’s afraid of. Violet is afraid of dying, losing her parents, and losing everyone she loves. She asks what Finch is afraid of. Finch thinks he’s afraid of the “just be careful” he’s gotten from people. He’s afraid of “Asleep” and himself. But he tells Violet he’s not afraid and leaps into the water with her.
Finch implies here that he might not be so odd for being attracted to the idea of the Blue Hole—lots of people are interested in the interconnectedness between life, death, and bodies of water. Telling Violet that he’s not afraid of anything while telling readers he is shows how nervous Finch is to show weakness. Given how others have ostracized him, it’s perhaps unsurprising that he doesn’t feel comfortable telling Violet the truth. But this also means that Violet doesn’t have enough information to know Finch is struggling.
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Related Quotes
Finch leads Violet in a dive toward the center of the Blue Hole. They return to the surface when Violet tugs on Finch’s hand, and she comments on how long Finch can hold his breath. He says he practices but then thinks that sounds better in his head. They swim around a bit and play a lazy game of Marco Polo. Violet asks Finch about his parents’ divorce, Finch’s dad, and Josh Raymond. Finch explains that his dad has made it clear that the divorce was everyone else’s fault. But he doesn’t want to really talk about it, so he says he’s going to dive again.
It's significant that Finch is willing to talk to Violet about his parents’ divorce and his family situation. He says enough to make it clear that he has a poor relationship with his dad and that his family in general isn’t very connected. And Finch’s love of diving makes for a convenient excuse to stop talking when he decides he doesn’t want to share any more—in this way, Finch only tells Violet as much as he wants her to know.
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Leaving Violet at the surface, Finch dives as though he’s escaping everyone in his life but Violet. He enjoys the way his lungs strain, and though he reminds himself that Violet is waiting for him, he likes the feeling of “darkness” grabbing him. He reminds himself not to panic and thinks that drowning isn’t a common method of committing suicide. Water is Finch’s favorite way to “cheat the Asleep.” He wants to keep going, but he stops and thinks of Violet. His lungs are burning. Finch struggles to return to the surface, mentally apologizing to Violet.
This passage makes it clear that Finch loves water because it has the power to kill him—and because he can hold his breath for so long, it wouldn’t be hard to dive too deep to be able to return to the surface. But at this point, the thought of killing himself with Violet waiting for him on the surface is too much. Finch starts to see here that his death would seriously hurt the people around him—and for now, that’s too much for him to bear.
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Violet is sobbing when Finch reaches the surface. She calls him an “asshole” twice, louder each time. Finch is afraid he’s frightened her too much as he comes out of the water. When he’s next to her, Violet pushes him and slaps him. Finch reminds himself this isn’t about him and tells Violet to let it all out—he knows she’s angry. She survived something awful, but right now, she’s just existing. Suddenly, Violet stops hitting Finch and says she feels like she has an angry person growing inside her, trying to get out. She hates that person and just wants to punch someone. Finch tells her to yell and throw something and demonstrates, hurling a rock into the ground.
Having already lost Eleanor, Violet was probably terrified when Finch disappeared under the water for so long. But Finch, to his credit, is able to turn this moment into one in which Violet is able to start getting in touch with her raw emotions. Letting them out, he suggests, is the only way that Violet is ever going to be able to move past them. This may also explain Finch’s own anger issues—he may be trying to do the same thing.
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After a minute, Violet joins Finch and starts throwing rocks and shouting. Suddenly, she stops and asks what exactly they’re doing. Finch can’t help himself—he kisses Violet, and she kisses him back. Then, he thinks of lines from The Waves and pushes Violet away. She looks enraged, but Finch says she deserves better—and he can’t promise he’ll stay around or won’t hurt her again and again. Violet says that they’re already involved and asks again where Finch’s scar came from.
Thinking of The Waves means thinking of Virginia Woolf, which for Finch seems to mean thinking about Woolf’s suicide note and mental illness. So, in this moment, it seems like Finch is trying to impress upon Violet that he’s not going to be a reliable partner. Because of his mental illness, he might hurt her and might not even be able to stick around—a possible allusion to suicide.
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Finch says the story’s boring: Finch’s dad gets in “black moods,” and Finch used to be small and not know how to get out of the way. He says he can’t promise Violet perfect days, and he’ll never be Ryan Cross. Violet says she doesn’t want Ryan, kisses Finch again, and then says Ryan is a kleptomaniac—he’s not perfect. Finch tells Violet that he loves her, and they kiss again. He doesn’t want to mess this up.
Here, Violet suggests that everyone, even people who seem perfect, have embarrassing secrets. It’s silly, she suggests, that people idolize Ryan when Ryan compulsively steals things. And she also implies that this means she and Finch shouldn’t feel so bad about their own flaws, since no one is perfect.
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