Me Before You

Me Before You Chapter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lou remembers the day she first became fearful. Seven years ago, Lou’s grandmother died in June. That July, 20-year-old Lou took advantage of her parent’s grief and distraction to stay out late partying with Treena, who was home from her first year at university. Lou dressed like a normal young woman in those days and was planning a trip to Australia.
Lou finally admits that she wasn’t always so cautious. As a younger woman, Lou had plans and ambitions like a “normal” young woman. This attitude is reflected in young Lou’s more conventional style of dress.
Themes
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One Friday night, Lou celebrated a lucrative day convincing tourists to go to a craft show by going out drinking with her friends and some university boys. Lou blows off Treena to go with the boys to the maze in the castle and ends up alone with the boys. Treena finds her half an hour later in the middle of the maze, alone and crying. Treena leads Lou out.
The maze at the castle symbolizes Lou’s confusion about which path her life should take. While it is not explicitly stated, it seems that Lou suffered some kind of sexual assault in the maze that made her feel as if some paths were unsafe for her as a young woman. Treena’s ability to lead Lou out of the maze shows how Treena has concrete goals that she is working towards.
Themes
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Back in the present, Lou tells Will that she’s joined the library, and Will encourages her to read more Flannery O’Connor instead of chick-lit. Will then realizes that Lou has never seen a real classical concert and offers her tickets from an old friend of his who plays the violin. Lou fires back that she’s not Will’s My Fair Lady project (which Will corrects to Pygmalion), and argues that she would feel uncomfortable in that world. Will tells her that he feels uncomfortable in society every day since his accident, and Lou agrees to go as long as Will will go with her.
Will continually pushes Lou towards achieving more for herself than the average life symbolized by the books she reads. Moyes also seems to be making a subtle complaint towards people who might assume that her book, because it’s in the romance genre, is nothing more than “chick-lit.” Yet Lou also asserts that she is not just Will’s project, as Eliza Doolittle is for Henry Higgins, the protagonist of My Fair Lady. Will elevates even that analogy, going back to the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion that My Fair Lady was based on. Again, Lou has to stretch her own level of comfort in high society so that Will can also stretch himself.
Themes
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The night of the concert, Lou triple checks the accommodations for Will’s chair and agrees to take over Will’s bedtime care, as Nathan will be busy by the time they get home from the concert. Lou also worries about her dress, knowing that everything she owns is wrong for a classical concert. Lou gives Will a fashion show of three options and Will advises her to wear a red dress. Lou does, but puts on a scarf to cover her cleavage. Will tells her that she looks better without the scarf, and Lou takes it back off. The pair leave, both dressed in style.
Lou gives Will a choice about how the night is going to go, even giving him final approval over her dress. The red dress is also a big step for Lou, who has avoided dressing suggestively in any way since the night of the maze. This night is about both Lou and Will taking back parts of who they were before they each suffered traumatic experiences.
Themes
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Quality of Life Theme Icon
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At the concert hall, Lou notes the different ways that upper class people react to Will. Rather than staring, the high class concert goers pointedly ignore Will and his chair. Will pretends he doesn’t notice and settles into the handicap accessible spot. Will tells Lou that a tag in his collar is bothering him and, in the absence of scissors, Lou rips it out with her teeth. Will is quietly shocked that Lou just appeared to be kissing his neck, but Lou just jokes that it was better his collar than his trousers.
While the upper-class people do not stare at Will like an animal in a zoo, they still negate Will’s humanity by pretending he doesn’t exist. This emotional blow is almost worse for Will to handle than his physical limitations. Lou and Will share their sense of humor and Lou treats Will as a normal man by making risqué jokes that no one else has dared to since Will’s accident.
Themes
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The concert begins and both Will and Lou are transported by the beauty of the Mozart. Lou’s mind ranges across all the deep emotions the music sparks within her, and she wonders how much more Will must be feeling. When the music ends, Will declines to go backstage to greet his violinist friend. Lou drives them home, but Will stops her as she pulls up to the annex. They talk about the music, stretching out the time when Will can just be a normal man who went to a concert with a normal girl.
Music is one thing that Will can enjoy just as purely as he could before the accident. Lou begins to realize how complex Will’s emotional life must be, despite the apparent lack of activity on the surface. Part of the reason that Will is so comfortable with Lou is that Lou did not know him before the accident. She has no ideal Will in mind that the current Will can no longer live up to.
Themes
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Lou and Treena never talked about the night that Treena led Lou out of the maze. Treena led Lou safely home and Lou changed immediately. She cut off her hair, cancelled her Australia trip, and stopped going out with her friends. She changed her style of dress to something that could never be seen as attractive to men like the ones she drank with the night of the maze. Lou put the past behind her and started going out with Patrick, but never returned to the maze.
After Treena led Lou out of the maze, Lou rejected making any decisions for fear of making another dangerous choice. While Lou previously said that she dresses whimsically because she enjoys it, there is also a part of her that dresses strangely as a reaction to her sexual assault. Even her relationship with Patrick is a reaction to that trauma. By never returning to the maze, Lou symbolically refuses to take any initiative or ambition in her life.
Themes
Ambition and Achievement Theme Icon