Me Before You

Me Before You Chapter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
As Lou hangs up on yet another travel agent who suggests that she take Will to Disney World, Will comes in and tells Lou that he is taking her to Alicia and Rupert’s wedding. Lou arranges all the logistics, proud of Will for facing his past. The day of, Lou wears the red dress she wore to the violin concert, hopeful that it will give Will some extra confidence. She is slightly worried that the experience will only depress Will further, and even more concerned that Will will try to do something to ruin the night for Alicia, but she puts on a brave face.
Taking Will to Disney World would be another step towards making him a child who cannot make his own choices, something Lou desperately wants to avoid. Will also makes a choice for himself by going to Alicia’s wedding. Though it may not be an entirely enjoyable night, it is at least a way for Will to express some initiative and move on rather than continue to pine over Alicia.
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Will’s parents see them off, warning Lou not to let Will get too drunk. Lou and Will arrive at Alicia’s family’s gorgeous Georgian mansion. Will tells Lou to stop worrying and she warns him not to do his Christy Brown impression as Lou and Will settle into their seats. The wedding is beautiful, and Alicia looks radiant, but Lou feels out of place in this high society. As the ceremony ends, all Lou can think is that this wedding should have been Will’s.
Will truly belongs in this beautiful, rich place, and Lou seems worried that Will’s only chance of happiness was belonging to this polite upper-class society. Lou mentions Christy Brown (Will’s impression of a mentally handicapped person) because she wants him to show off his charm and wit rather than hide behind his wheelchair.
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The reception begins and Lou goes to get refreshments for Will. The bartender offers Pimm’s (what she thinks is just a lemonade drink), and Lou accepts, though she silently judges Alicia for not splurging to provide alcoholic beverages. Will has been cornered by a former co-worker, who awkwardly tries to chat with Will and then mistakes Lou for Will’s date and wanders off to give them privacy. Several other old friends then approach Will, but Lou is secretly glad that Alicia keeps a wide distance.
Lou’s annoyance over the Pimm’s is specifically marked out, a detail that will become important later in the chapter. Lou and Will appear to be a couple at the wedding, and neither does anything to convince people otherwise. Will seems happy to have someone by his side who offers some hope for his current life while surrounded by people who pity him for the life he lost.
Themes
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The afternoon wears on as lunch is served and Lou is surprised to find out that the Pimm’s actually had wine in it. Lou is horrified that she is drunk, but Will seems pleased to relax and enjoy the day tipsy. Will is more charming than Lou has ever seen him, and brightens especially as he talks to an older woman named Mary Rawlinson. Mary is a former MP who campaigned on a platform of rights for the disabled and used to travel with Will before his accident.
Lou feels as though she must be in control of this day so that nothing goes wrong, while Will uncharacteristically welcomes this chance to simply enjoy life without worrying about what comes next. Mary Rawlinson helps with this, as one of the few people who sees Will’s humanity and respects him just as much post-injury.
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Will introduces Lou to Mary Rawlinson and the older woman is far nicer than Lou expects anyone of the upper class to be. Mary gives Lou her business card for an organization that helps people retrain, just in case Lou ever wants to switch career paths. Mary then encourages Will to embrace a new life as well, but the wedding toasts begin before Will can answer.
Mary offers Lou the opportunity to rethink the ambitions that she thought were already behind her, as well as offering a place in a world that Lou never thought she could belong in. Moyes cuts off the conversation before Will shows if Mary has had any affect on his end-of-life plans, keeping up the suspense.
Themes
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Lou tries desperately to sober up so that she can drive Will home, but chocolate and coffee only make her feel jittery as well as drunk. Will tells Lou that they can just stay at a hotel so that Lou can fully enjoy the night. Lou lets go of her worries and begins to have a truly good time, laughing at the guests looking ridiculous on the dance floor. Alicia stops by their table and Will is perfectly civil, though he can’t resist teasing Alicia by telling her that he got her a mirror instead of a picture frame.
Lou wants to cut short her own enjoyment of the night so that she can take care of Will, but Will offers an alternative that allows Lou to enjoy herself while keeping them both safe. Will lies to Alicia about his wedding gift, showing that she doesn’t actually know who gave her each of the numerous expensive presents. Alicia has a stereotypically perfect life with her marriage to a wealthy man, but she doesn’t seem to truly appreciate it.
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After Alicia moves on, Lou convinces Will to take her on the floor for a slow dance. She sits on his lap as Will slowly wheels his chair in circles around the dance floor. Many of the other guests appear scandalized, but Will and Lou simply enjoy the moment. Will tells Lou that she is the only reason he gets up each morning. Lou gathers her courage and asks Will to take one last big trip with her. After a lengthy pause, Will agrees.
Lou and Will continue to act like a couple at the wedding, until it is unclear whether either of them are just acting. They can no longer ignore that they have feelings for each other, even if they treat the dance as just a way to laugh at the other guests’ reactions. Will’s connection to Lou might be the thing that changes his mind about ending his life.
Themes
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