Me Before You

Me Before You Chapter 17 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Lou reflects on the emotional struggle of being a caregiver, unable to escape Will’s bad moods or her own. After Lou tells Will that she is moving in with Patrick, Will becomes suddenly distant and cool with her, making Lou angry in turn. That afternoon, a man named Michael Lawler comes to see Will. Will sends Lou away to meet with Mr. Lawler privately. Will pointedly calls Lou “Louisa” instead of his usual habit of calling Lou solely by her last name, “Clark.”
Again, the emotional tolls of Will’s situation are much harder for Lou to handle than the physical limitations. For Lou and Will, calling each other by their given first names actually shows much more distance than the affectionate use of last names (calling a friend by their last name is common in British boarding schools), and a sure sign that something about Michael Lawler’s visit will create problems between them.
Themes
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That night, Lou googles Michael Lawler and finds out that he is a lawyer who specializes in wills and power of attorney. Lou shakes off this bad news and busies herself moving in to Patrick’s flat. Her bright clothes leave the closet half empty. Patrick comments on the Will activities calendar that Lou hangs on the wall, but Lou just tells him that she needs it to remind her of when her contract with the Traynor family ends.
Will is making a will, showing that he is still set on ending his life and wants to arrange his affairs in preparation for his death. Meanwhile, Lou is uncomfortable at Patrick’s apartment, as signaled by her wardrobe’s sad state in Patrick’s closet. Lou also does not trust Patrick enough to tell him the real responsibilities and stress of her job.
Themes
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Lou knows she is bad at keeping secrets and her anxiety over Will’s end of life plan worsens as the deadline draws closer. With seven weeks to go, Will and Lou’s relationship has disintegrated into a polite friendship, such that even Nathan notices the difference. Lou finally decides to tell Camilla about Will’s meeting with the lawyer and arranges to meet her at the very café in the castle that closed down Lou’s previous job.
Part of Lou’s stress comes from her lack of a support system. She needs to be able to tell her family and depend on them in this difficult time, but her obligation to the Traynor family prevents her from doing what is best for her.
Themes
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Lou is uncomfortable at the new café, wondering if old patrons like the Dandelion Lady will be happy here. When Camilla arrives, Lou shares the news about Will drawing up a will. Camilla tells Lou to arrange any trip she can think of for Will, no matter the cost. Lou agrees and lets it slip that she now lives with her boyfriend Patrick. Camilla gets angry at Lou for rubbing her happiness in Will’s face during such a fragile time for Will, but Lou can’t see how her romantic life makes any difference to Will. Camilla storms out of the café, leaving Lou shaking.
The café is not a neutral location—it is far outside Lou’s comfort zone and a sign of the outside world creeping into Lou’s small town. It is a place for Camilla, not people like the Dandelion Lady. Lou feels much closer to the Dandelion Lady than to Camilla, as the two woman approach the world from different viewpoints. Camilla also sees Lou’s responsibility to Will differently than Lou does, expecting Lou to put her life on hold until Will is “better.” Lou understand that she can’t sacrifice events in her own life for Will’s comfort.
Themes
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Love and Sacrifice Theme Icon
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Lou can’t stop thinking about Camilla’s anger over her new living situation and voices her doubts to Patrick about rushing into this next step. Patrick refuses to talk about it, telling Lou not to make things complicated. Lou finds solace in cleaning Will’s annex from top to bottom instead of engaging with any of her problems. Will draws the line when Lou starts descaling his bathroom tub and forces her to walk with him to the castle.
Patrick refuses to even engage with Lou’s emotional discomfort, showing another way in which he focuses only on the physical aspects of their relationship. Will, on the other hand, notices that Lou’s actions are out of the ordinary and forces her to bring her feelings out into the open.
Themes
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As Lou and Will walk around the castle grounds, Will reminisces about his childhood playing knight on the wall and his first kiss on the grounds, though he can’t do those things now because of his wheelchair. For a distraction, Will suggests they try to walk the maze, but Lou refuses. Will baits her further and Lou rises to the challenge to prove she is not boring.
Will’s memories give insight into the ambitions he once had for himself. These stories are moments where Will saw himself as a hero, a sharp contrast to the way he sees himself now. Even though Will has given up on his life, he still encourages Lou to confront all the life decisions (symbolized by going into the maze) that she has avoided for years.
Themes
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In the maze for the first time in six years, Lou quickly starts to panic. She feels hopelessly lost and claustrophobic, then is thrown back into the memory of the last time she was in the maze. She thinks of the boys from the bar touching and kissing her and starts to scream for Will. Will comes to find Lou and comforts her until she can breathe again. Will then leads Lou out of the maze, a route he has known since he was a boy.
Lou’s previous trauma has kept her from making choices for her future, staying in one place instead of trying to navigate through the maze of life. But with Will’s support, it seems, Lou can come to terms with her fears of the past and make it safely out of the maze instead of remaining stuck in her previous trauma.
Themes
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Once safely out of the maze, Will asks Lou why she panicked. When Lou can’t answer, Will shares his own secret fear about the many health risks that could make his quality of life even worse than it is now. Yet Will can’t talk about these things because his family needs him to stay optimistic. Will tells Lou that she is the only person he can be honest with. Lou finally opens up and tells Will about the sexual assault she has been hiding for years. Though she cannot remember all of the details because of alcohol-induced memory gaps, she finally admits that the night in the maze is the reason why she has made such safe, boring choices in her life.
Will and Lou are honest and vulnerable with each other in a way that they are not with any other character. Will speaks of how he is making sacrifices for his family even though they do not always see it, suppressing his true feelings so that his family can be more comfortable. On the other hand, Lou reveals that what looks like sacrificing her freedom in order to take care of her family is actually a choice she made in order to make herself feel safe.
Themes
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Will takes in Lou’s story and tells her that no part of that night was her fault. Lou is taken aback, as even Treena had made her feel as if she was partly to blame for being so drunk at the time of the incident. Lou takes Will’s hand and Will tells Lou to live life to the fullest and not let that night define her future. Will and Lou leave the castle grounds and Lou thanks Will one final time for leading her out of the maze.
Will helps Lou let go of the guilt she always carried over her sexual assault, easing (but not totally erasing, of course) her trauma. Will pushes Lou to make the choices that she wants instead of always choosing paths in reaction to what was done to her in the past. With Will as a guide, Lou can make it out of the maze of possible life choices into an actual goal for herself.
Themes
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