Before I Fall

by

Lauren Oliver

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Juliet Sykes Character Analysis

Juliet Sykes is a social outcast at Thomas Jefferson High, a strange and quiet girl with no friends whose odd demeanor and unreadability have garnered her the nickname “Psycho”—or perhaps the nickname, and the cruel bullying she endures at the hands of Lindsay, Sam, Ally, Elody, and virtually every other student in school are what have made her so silent and inscrutable. At the party on the night of Cupid Day, Juliet shows up and makes a scene by berating Lindsay, Sam, Ally, and Elody for being “bitches.” The girls turn the tables on Juliet, however, and throw their drinks at her, and soon all of the other attendees are joining in. Juliet leaves, humiliated. That night, Sam and her friends get into a car accident, and the next morning, when Sam wakes up, she realizes that she is stuck in a time loop in which the events of Cupid Day are doomed to repeat themselves. As Sam navigates day after day, she soon realizes that it is Juliet she and her friends hit with their car that very first night—Juliet had been jumping out into the road, committing suicide. Juliet kills herself each night of the time loop, and though Sam tries to stop her, she fails again and again. Eventually, Sam realizes that the purpose of her loop was never to save her own life—it was only and always to save Juliet’s. In the end, Sam is successful, and though Juliet hovers over Sam as she loses consciousness for the last time and proclaims that Sam saved her, Sam insists that it is Juliet who saved her. Juliet’s pain is explored more deeply with each “day” that goes by, and it eventually comes to light that Juliet and Lindsay had been close friends as young girls, but the friendship ended when Juliet, who had borne witness to Lindsay’s pain during her parents’ divorce, was forced to bear the shame associated with Lindsay’s having wet her sleeping bag on a Girl Scout trip when Lindsay blamed the incident on Juliet. That shame and misery followed Juliet around for her entire life as a student, and Oliver uses the cruel irony and pettiness of the origin of Juliet’s ostracizing as a way of highlighting the unforeseeable but often inescapable effects of cruelty and bullying, even between young children.

Juliet Sykes Quotes in Before I Fall

The Before I Fall quotes below are all either spoken by Juliet Sykes or refer to Juliet Sykes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the HarperCollins edition of Before I Fall published in 2010.
Chapter 1  Quotes

I know some of you are thinking maybe I deserved it. Maybe I shouldn’t have sent that rose to Juliet or dumped my drink on her at the party. Maybe I shouldn’t have copped off Lauren Lornet’s quiz. Maybe I shouldn’t have said those things to Kent. There are probably some of you who think I deserved it because I was going to let Rob go all the way—because I wasn’t going to save myself. But before you start pointing fingers, let me ask you: is what I did really so bad? So bad I deserved to die? So bad I deserved to die like that? Is what I did really so much worse than what anybody else does? Is it really so much worse than what you do?

Page Number: 80-81
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Maybe the whole point is I have to prove that I'm a good person. Maybe I have to prove that I deserve to move on. Maybe Juliet Sykes is the only thing between me and an eternity of chocolate fountains and perfect love and guys who always call when they say they will and banana sundaes that

actually help you burn calories. Maybe she's my ticket out.

Related Characters: Samantha Kingston (speaker), Juliet Sykes
Page Number: 306
Explanation and Analysis:

The wind shrieks, and I suddenly realize that Juliet's only a half inch from the road, teetering on the thin line where the pavement begins, like she's balancing on a tightrope.

“Maybe you should come away from the road,” I say, but all the time in the back of my head, there’s an idea growing and swelling, a horrible, sickening realization, massing up and taking shape like clouds on the horizon. Someone calls my name again. And then, still in the distance, I hear the throaty wail of “Splinter” by Fallacy pumping from someone's car.

“Sam! Sam!” I recognize it as Kent's voice now.

Juliet turns to face me then. She’s smiling, but it's the saddest smile I’ve ever seen.

“Maybe next time,” she says. “But probably not.”

Related Characters: Samantha Kingston (speaker), Kent McFuller (speaker), Juliet Sykes (speaker)
Related Symbols: Roses
Page Number: 323-324
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

[Lindsay] doesn't hate [Juliet.] She's afraid of her. Juliet Sykes, the keeper of Lindsay’s oldest, maybe her worst, secret. And it all seems absurd now, the chance and randomness of it. One person shoots up and the other spirals downward—random and meaningless. As simple as being in the right place, or the wrong place, or however you want to look at it. As simple as getting a craving for Diet Pepsi one day at a pool party, and getting swept away; as simple as not saying no.

“Why didn't you say anything?” I ask, even though I already know the answer. My voice comes out hoarse from the effort of swallowing back tears.

Juliet shrugs. “She was my best friend, you know? She was always so sad back then.” Juliet makes a noise that could be a laugh or a whimper. “Besides,” she says more quietly, “I thought it would pass.”

Related Characters: Samantha Kingston (speaker), Juliet Sykes (speaker), Lindsay Edgecombe
Page Number: 393
Explanation and Analysis:

At the same time the more I think about it […] the angrier I get. This is my life: the whole big, sprawling mess of my life in all its possibilities—first kisses and last kisses and college and apartments and marriage and fights and apologies and happiness—brought to a point, a second, an edge of a second, razored off in that final moment by Juliet’s last act: her revenge against us, against me. The farther I get from the party, the more I think, No. It can't happen this way. No matter what we did, it can't happen this way.

Related Characters: Samantha Kingston (speaker), Juliet Sykes
Page Number: 398
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

In my head I've been saying good-bye to everything, all these places I’ve seen so often I start to ignore them: the deli on the hill with perfect chicken cutlets and the trinket store where I used to buy thread to make friendship bracelets and the Realtor’s and the dentist's and the little garden where Steve King put his tongue in my mouth in seventh grade, and I was so surprised I bit down. I can't stop thinking about how strange life is, about Kent and Juliet and even Alex and Anna and Bridget and Mr. Shaw and Ms. Winters—about how complex and connected everything is, all threaded together like some vast, invisible netting—and how sometimes you can think you're doing the right thing, but it's actually terrible and vice versa.

Page Number: 424
Explanation and Analysis:

Floating images, moving in and out: bright green eyes and a field of sun-warmed grass, a mouth saying, Sam, Sam, Sam, making it sound like a song. Three faces blooming together like flowers on a single stem, names ebbing away from me, a single word: love. Red and white flashes, tree branches lit up like the vaulted ceiling of a church. And a face above mine, white and beautiful, eyes as large as the moon. You saved me. A hand on my cheek, cool and dry. Why did you save me? Words welling up on a tide: No. The opposite. Eyes the color of a dawn sky, a crown of blond hair, so bright and white and blinding I could swear it was a halo.

Related Characters: Samantha Kingston (speaker), Juliet Sykes
Page Number: 468
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Before I Fall LitChart as a printable PDF.
Before I Fall PDF

Juliet Sykes Character Timeline in Before I Fall

The timeline below shows where the character Juliet Sykes appears in Before I Fall. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
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...a Talking Heads song: “Psycho killer, qu’est-ce que c’est.” The girls turn around and see Juliet Sykes—a classmate whom they have all nicknamed Psycho—walking through the cafeteria. Juliet is pale and... (full context)
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As Juliet exits the cafeteria, Lindsay wonders aloud if Juliet received her Valogram rose from the four... (full context)
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Lindsay hates Juliet—the two of them were in elementary school together and have been enemies ever since. It... (full context)
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When Sam opens her eyes, she is greeted with a massive shock: Juliet Sykes is standing in the doorway, staring at Sam and her friends. Sam is shocked... (full context)
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Soon, everyone in the room is aware of Juliet’s presence, and they stare at her as she walks “slowly and confidently” toward Sam and... (full context)
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...the room to get some air. Kent confronts her, asking her what she did to Juliet, and though Sam tries to push past him, he blocks her. Sam screams at Kent... (full context)
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...same, she begins to cry. She thinks that the whole night is Kent’s fault, and Juliet Sykes’s(full context)
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...some people might think she deserved to die—that after she sent the mean Valogram to Juliet, dumped her drink on her at the party, cheated off Lauren Lornet, and said awful... (full context)
Chapter 2 
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...Rob for abandoning her. As Sam’s anxiety mounts she looks to the door—where she sees Juliet Sykes standing at the edge of the party. (full context)
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Once again, Juliet approaches Lindsay and calls her a bitch. One by one, she calls Elody, Ally, and... (full context)
Chapter 3
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“Psychopath alert,” says Lindsay—Juliet Sykes has just walked into the cafeteria. Sam has been so focused on herself today... (full context)
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Lauren begins to sob and tells Sam that she’s a bitch. The words—echoing Juliet’s—make Sam go cold. Lauren immediately apologizes to Sam and begs Sam not to be mad... (full context)
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...The girls all ask her what has happened. She asks them if they all know Juliet Sykes, and they answer that they do. Ally’s mother tells them that she’s just gotten... (full context)
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Elody wonders out loud if Juliet Sykes killed herself because of their rose and the cruel note attached to it. Lindsay... (full context)
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...she feels she is looking for. As she flips through the pages, she sees that Juliet and Lindsay were pictured together, thick as thieves, in every yearbook through the fourth grade.... (full context)
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...back through the living room, she is afraid to encounter an apparition of the dead Juliet. Instead, she runs into Lindsay. Sam reveals what she has discovered; Lindsay retorts that she... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...the bad driver, the mean girl, and the one who lied about being friends with Juliet Sykes and “tortured” the poor girl for so many years. Sam didn’t do anything—she was... (full context)
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...over Sam’s shoulder—Sam feels time seem to freeze, and when she turns around, she spots Juliet Sykes in the doorway.  (full context)
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...moment unfold yet again. She stumbles through the crowd of people now taking note of Juliet’s presence—she notices that Juliet’s eyes are locked on Lindsay, and realizes it is Lindsay whom... (full context)
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...clothes, dresses, and slips back out into the hallway—the party has returned to normal, and Juliet Sykes is gone. (full context)
Chapter 5
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...her older sister. Sam lies, and tells the girl—who introduces herself as Marian—that she and Juliet are lab partners. Izzy runs over and throws her arm around Sam’s waist, asking her... (full context)
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...family goes to bed and silence fills the house, Sam is tortured with visions of Juliet bleeding and dying. This morning, Sam swore there was “nothing in the world” that could... (full context)
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...house, though, unsure of what to do, and finds herself navigating to the street where Juliet lives—she remembers hearing the name from Lindsay mentioning it a long time ago. She sees... (full context)
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...knowing that she shouldn’t be there. She runs up to the door and rings the bell—Juliet’s mother answers, in a bathrobe, already dressed for bed. Sam tells Juliet’s mother that she’s... (full context)
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Sam considers leaving while Juliet’s mother is in the kitchen, but instead she stays and looks around. She sees a... (full context)
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Juliet’s mother tells Sam that Juliet didn’t pick up her phone—she seems concerned, but Sam cheerfully... (full context)
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...unlike her usual self. She runs through the party, asking people if they have seen Juliet Sykes. The music is so loud, though, that everyone assumes she is looking for Lindsay,... (full context)
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...Ally, telling them that Sam is here, but is busy looking for her “best friend” Juliet. Sam, full of anger, reveals that she knows that it was Lindsay who was Juliet’s... (full context)
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...to get Kent—when he comes back, Sam asks him to pick the lock and get Juliet out. He uses a safety pin to do so, but when the door swings open,... (full context)
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...to the road. Relieved, Sam heads toward the noise, and eventually finds the main road. Juliet is huddled there, about eight feet from the blacktop, and Sam confronts her, asking her... (full context)
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Juliet grimly smiles and agrees—Sam doesn’t know her at all. Another car shoots by, and Sam... (full context)
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...and can only say that Lindsay, Ally, and Elody were in the car that hit Juliet. Kent pulls his phone out and calls the police as other cars passing by on... (full context)
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...and offers her a blanket. Sam, disoriented and confused, asked what happened to Lindsay and Juliet. Lindsay is fine, Sam says, and was taken to the hospital just to get checked... (full context)
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...of his words and demeanor. Though Sam knows that everything will reset tomorrow and both Juliet and Elody will be fine, she is still shaken up, and tries to calm herself... (full context)
Chapter 6
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...driveway toward Lindsay’s waiting car, she knows that today, she is going to save two lives—Juliet Sykes’s, and her own. (full context)
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...some adjustments. Sam heads straight for the roses in a tray labeled “St-Ta,” looking for Juliet Sykes’s last name. Sam removes Juliet’s “maybe next year, but probably not” rose from the... (full context)
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After replacing Juliet’s one rose with a huge bouquet—and an added note which reads “from your secret admirer”—Sam... (full context)
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...Sam laughs with her friends, but scans the cafeteria repeatedly for signs of Kent or Juliet. Sam zones back into the conversation when Juliet’s name is mentioned—Sam knows that Ally, who... (full context)
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At that moment, Juliet walks into the cafeteria. Sam watches her intensely, and Rob walks away. Juliet does not... (full context)
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As her friends raise their roses like glasses of champagne to cruelly “toast” Juliet, Sam leaves the cafeteria, looking for Juliet in the parking lot behind it. Sam is... (full context)
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A few moments later, there is a scream, and Sam fears with a dread that Juliet has already arrived—instead, the scream is followed by laughter, and Ally calls Sam over to... (full context)
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...she is doing things right—and if she is still going to be able to save Juliet, who should have been her main focus that day despite all the other good she’s... (full context)
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...feels a hush fall around her, and sure enough, when she looks down the hall, Juliet Sykes is there. As Juliet passes Sam, Sam grabs her arm and drags her back... (full context)
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Sam tells Juliet that she is sorry for having made fun of her for so many years, and... (full context)
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Sam is on the verge of tears, both sad for Juliet and frustrated that she herself can’t make her see that Sam is trying to make... (full context)
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...was wrong. Sam is trying to think of a way to communicate this all to Juliet, but Juliet calmly pushes her way past Sam. She hesitates at the door, though, and... (full context)
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Juliet goes on to tell Sam that it was Lindsay who wet the sleeping bag on... (full context)
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Sam asks Juliet why she never said anything, and Juliet says that she thought the harassment would pass,... (full context)
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...woods, the rain is heavy and she feels hopeless, but the thought of the vulnerable Juliet pushes her onward. Sam feels Lindsay’s car keys in her pocket—she is the designated driver—and... (full context)
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Sam reaches the main road and scans the woods for Juliet. She finds herself in the road, and a car comes toward her—the car swerves and... (full context)
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Juliet asks Sam what she’s doing, and Sam asks Juliet what she’s doing—Sam thought the whole... (full context)
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Sam knows, though, that Juliet came to the party to use the girls’ reaction to her tirade as a “final... (full context)
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...are sitting in Lindsay’s driveway. Sam remembers being questioned by the police, who asked if Juliet said anything to her about what she was feeling—Sam replied only that Juliet wasn’t feeling... (full context)
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...fearless—she is always, always terrified, just like the rest of her classmates. Sam confesses that Juliet told her the truth about the Girl Scout trip. She begs Lindsay to tell her... (full context)
Chapter 7
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...walking away. Sam sits down with her friends and begins eating—a few minutes later, when Juliet Sykes walks into the cafeteria, Sam sees that Juliet has a single rose on her... (full context)
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Downstairs Sam stands at the doorway, waiting for Juliet. When she walks in, Sam catches her and asks to talk to her. Juliet says... (full context)
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Sam runs through the woods behind Kent’s house, calling for Juliet, while behind her, she hears Kent’s voice calling for her. There’s no time, though, to... (full context)
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Sam hears a truck engine approaching, but Juliet isn’t moving into the road—she is just standing there, looking at Sam. Sam runs up... (full context)
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Sam tells Juliet she doesn’t have to do this—Juliet retorts that Sam could never understand her. As Sam’s... (full context)
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Juliet tells Sam that it’s too late, but Sam replies that it’s never too late. Still,... (full context)
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...saved me.” Sam feels a hand on her cheek. She tries to speak and tell Juliet that “the opposite” is true, but cannot make the words come out. Juliet’s “crown” of... (full context)