Violet drives down to the Kentucky border to visit the “shoe trees.” She pulls over when she gets to an intersection on a dirt road, surrounded by trees covered in shoes. Violet has a pair of green Chuck Taylors and a pair of Eleanor’s yellow Keds. She writes “Ultraviolet Remarkey-able” on her shoes and hangs them next to the Keds.
Violet doesn’t treat these “remaining wanderings” as opportunities to mourn Finch exclusively. Rather, by bringing Eleanor’s shoes to hang on the tree, she’s able to say goodbye to both Finch and Eleanor.
Violet sits, waiting for whatever Finch wanted her to see. She looks up and sees Finch’s sneakers high up in the tree—Finch was here. Violet reaches for her phone, but it’s in the car. She runs back to it and scrolls through her texts from Finch. His first text, a week after he left, was, “I am on the highest branch.” She reads through his other texts and then heads for the second marked destination on the map.
Now that Violet has started to follow Finch’s final directions, his last few cryptic text messages start to make more sense. This makes it clear that Finch wasn’t just spouting nonsense as he texted Violet—he was creating these experiences for her. It also seems like he suspected she’d use the opportunity to honor Eleanor as well.
Violet pulls in at the site of the world’s biggest ball of paint. She hopes nobody has been here since Finch, and that she’ll still be able to read whatever Finch wrote. Mike Carmichael answers the door and leads Violet to the barn where the ball of paint lives, telling Violet how he got started (he painted thousands of coats of paint on a baseball starting in the 1970s). He leads her into a huge room with a massive ball in the middle. Mike says that he tries to paint the ball every day. Violet asks if he might remember Finch and if Finch wrote something on the ball. Mike remembers Finch and shows Violet the violet paint he used. The ball is yellow now; Violet is too late.
The fact that Finch used violet paint again suggests that he created this final string of places to help Violet heal and to honor her. However, the fact that Violet can’t read whatever Finch wrote is nevertheless disconcerting for her. But this mirrors the way that Violet is unable to understand so many things about Finch’s death, including why he killed himself in the first place. She again has to confront the fact that his manner of death robs her of the ability to make sense of the situation.
Mike explains that he asks people to paint over whatever they write so they leave the next person a clean slate. Violet agrees to paint a layer and asks for sky-blue paint. She feels like she’s losing Finch again as Mike locates paint the exact color of Finch’s eyes. Painting the ball is soothing, and when Violet is done, Mike hands her a guest book to sign. Violet flips back a page and finds Finch’s entry. Next to his name, he wrote the first line of Oh, the Places You’ll Go!. Violet signs her name and writes the book’s second line. Violet feels a bit better knowing that whatever Finch wrote on the ball will be there forever underneath the layers of paint.
Discovering that Finch wrote the first line of Oh, the Places You’ll Go! in the guestbook reminds Violet to take Finch’s advice to heart: life might be hard, but it is worth living. This book was important to them—and by reading, singing, and dancing to it together, Violet was able to come to the conclusion that she should keep going.
When Violet gets home, she finds her parents in the living room. She tells them that she needs for them to talk about Eleanor; she misses Eleanor, and she’s sorry they took the A Street Bridge to begin with. She keeps going, saying that she wants to remember Finch and Eleanor—even though she can’t bring them back, and even though Finch’s death might’ve been her fault. If she keeps thinking about them, they won’t be completely gone. Violet’s mom, in tears, pulls Violet into a hug and tells Violet it wasn’t her fault. Violet’s dad cries too, and the three huddle together, sobbing.
By telling her parents all of her fears, Violet shows them how much she trusts them. While she hasn’t felt able to say things like this for much of the novel, she now realizes that voicing these fears and connecting with her parents is one of the most effective ways to remember both Finch and Eleanor. The fact that Violet’s parents comfort her after she’s done shows that going forward, Violet can rely on them—whereas Finch couldn’t rely on his parents.