The Nest Houses no longer exist; one old man tells Finch that “they been ate up by weather and the elements.” Finch thinks that everyone is suffering the same fate as the Nest Houses and he thinks of the grave he dug for the cardinal. He wonders if it’s still there; the thought of the bird’s bones in the grave is the saddest thing Finch can think of.
Finch isn’t keen on the idea of burying bodies—he’d prefer cremation. So, the memory of burying the cardinal may make him sad not only because the bones are a reminder that the cardinal is dead. They also remind him how uncaring and unwilling to listen his family is, since they insisted on burying the bird.
When Finch gets home, he stares at himself in the bathroom mirror. His reflection disappears, and Finch wonders if he’s gone. This is fascinating. Finch wonders if he can touch himself, and sure enough, he can feel his heartbeat. He shuts himself in his closet, curls up, and breathes carefully. If he breathes too loudly, he might “wake up the darkness.” The darkness could do anything to him, Violet, or Finch’s loved ones.
Finch’s disappearing reflection suggests that he’s starting to lose his sense of who he is. And then, worrying about “wak[ing] up the darkness” shows how afraid and alone Finch feels. The darkness could refer to the literal darkness in the room, or it could refer to the figurative darkness in Finch’s mind. And while the darkness of the room can’t actually hurt anything, if Finch is referring to his own mind, it would reinforce that he’s most afraid of himself.
In the morning, Finch checks the landline voicemail. Mr. Embry left one for Finch’s mom that he says is important, but Finch deletes it. Then, he locks himself back in his closet and breathes carefully. The same phrases cycle through his mind, over and over again: that he’s broken, a fraud, and impossible to love. Violet will figure all of this out soon. Finch’s mind also decides that he has bipolar disorder.
Deleting Mr. Embry’s message ensures that Finch’s support network isn’t actually able to help him—not even Kate is going to be able to get the message. And Finch is also still fighting with coming up with the words to describe his experiences. In his worsening mental state, all he can focus on are negative words, which make him feel even worse. His mind also tells him that he has bipolar disorder, which is characterized by cycles of depression and mania (heightened mood) that fit with Finch’s descriptions of his “asleep” and “awake” periods.
Finch is silent during dinner. Afterward, he steals a bottle of sleeping pills from Finch’s mom and swallows half the bottle. He wants to feel what Cesare Pavese felt. Finch stretches out in his closet and things start to feel hazy and heavy—it feels like sleeping, not like anything heroic. Dragging himself up, Finch tries to make himself vomit but nothing comes up. Then, he puts on his sneakers and runs, though it feels like running through quicksand.
This passage makes it clear that Finch has a very particular idea of what suicide should feel like. It should make him feel heroic and like he’s doing something meaningful; it shouldn’t be as easy as falling asleep. This speaks to how much he idealizes suicide—and how much he perhaps shouldn’t.
Finch runs to the hospital and asks to have his stomach pumped. He blacks out and when he wakes up, a nurse hands him paperwork to fill out. The only thing filled in is his age and the name, which reads Josh Raymond. Finch laughs. His mind offers several more facts about suicide, and then, when the nurse is gone, he gets dressed and leaves the hospital. Finch knows that if he stays, they’ll contact his parents, and then they’ll make him stay. Finch knows he’s too fast for them to catch.
When Finch talks about leaving the hospital, he makes it clear again that for him, suicide is all about gaining control. He needs the hospital’s help—but on his terms. He needs to feel in control of whether he lives or dies—but only if dying feels a specific way. This shows how acutely Finch craves control, but it also seems clear that trying to get control in these ways is self-destructive.