All the Bright Places

All the Bright Places

by

Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places: 58. Violet: The Last Wandering Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Violet gets up early the next morning. She can barely drive past the Blue Hole, but she makes it to Farmersburg. She drives around, looking for churches and anything pretty. When she finds nothing, she stops on Main Street to ask for help, but nothing is open since it’s a Sunday. Violet gets back in the car and drives past all the churches, but none of them are very pretty, and none are near water. At a gas station, she asks the attendant about nearby lakes and churches. He says that there are some north of here.
For the final destination, Finch makes Violet work to figure out where exactly she’s supposed to go. Though it’s impossible to know what Finch was thinking as he arranged this quest for Violet, it’s beginning to seem like he’s trying to teach her to be curious and observant all on her own—skills she can also apply to her life going forward.
Themes
Individuality and Identity Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
Violet drives north until she sees a Dollar General. She stops in and asks an employee if she knows where she’d find a beautiful lake and a church. The woman says that Emmanuel Baptist Church is up the highway, and there’s a small lake nearby. It’s off of Private Road. Violet gets back on the car, thinking that soon, her wandering with Finch will be over. She feels disappointed when she sees the church and the lake—they’re not beautiful. As she crawls back along the road, she notices a sign for Taylor Prayer Chapel.
For Violet, this final trip is bittersweet, especially since she’s having such a hard time finding whatever Finch wanted her to see. This may make Violet question how well she knew Finch, or how well she’s actually able to interpret his clues.
Themes
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Violet stops and wonders if Finch came here the day he died, and how he found this place. She gets out and enters the chapel. It smells fresh and clean, though it’s smaller than Violet’s bedroom. She sits in a pew and then goes to the altar. Tucked behind the Bible is a card with the history of the chapel. It was intended to be a “sanctuary for weary travelers” and was built to memorialize people who die in car accidents. Violet knows why Finch chose this place: for Eleanor, and for himself, because he was “a weary traveler.”
The Taylor Prayer Chapel shows Violet that Finch cared for her deeply. He knew that she’d need a place like this to say goodbye to Eleanor, as well as to say goodbye to him. Describing Finch as a “weary traveler” encapsulates the idea that his life was extremely difficult for him due to his mental illness—getting through each day was a struggle.
Themes
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon
Violet notices an envelope sticking out of the Bible. She turns the pages to the envelope and notices that someone underlined “Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” The envelope has “Ultraviolet Remarkey-able” on it. Violet sits down in a pew and wonders if she’s ready to hear whatever Finch had to say. Shaking, she pulls out three sheets of staff paper. One is covered in music and the other two have lyrics. Finch wrote that Violet makes him happy and makes him feel safe. Crying, Violet reads that she “made [him] lovely, happy, and special.”
Finch never wrote his songs down—so it’s especially meaningful that he did, finally, choose to write something down for Violet. This makes it clear that he loved her; he just couldn’t overcome his mental illness on his own to be able to be with her. His lyrics, meanwhile, also make it clear that his death wasn’t Violet’s fault. He appreciated everything she did for him, but in his mind, it was already inevitable that he was going to die.
Themes
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Community, Support, and Trust Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
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When Violet has the words memorized, she puts the papers back into the envelope and cries. When she gets home, she plays the notes on her flute and gets the tune stuck in her head. She realizes that it’s okay that she and Finch didn’t collect more souvenirs from their wanderings or do more to organize their project. She thinks that what you leave matters more than what you take.
Violet now realizes that her and Finch’s project wasn’t just something they did for school; they did it to connect with each other and to leave their marks on the world. And leaving this music for Violet, as well as helping Violet see that her life has meaning, is what Finch left—and Violet now realizes that’s more meaningful than the heartache he's caused her.
Themes
Mental Health, Stigma, and Suicide Theme Icon
Language, Meaning, and Control Theme Icon
Grief, Trauma, Purpose, and Survivorship Theme Icon