Me Before You celebrates ambition, encouraging the characters to try for their dreams even if they seem unattainable. Yet at the beginning of the novel, both Lou and Will are watching life pass by instead of participating in it. Lou seems content in a dead-end job still living with her parents, unable to understand or sympathize with her far more ambitious sister – though Lou’s safe, boring life is later shown to be a coping mechanism after the sexual assault that Lou suffered years earlier. Meanwhile, Will’s high-ambition, high-stakes life as a London financier is brought to a screeching halt by the accident that leaves him wheelchair-bound. As Lou tries to convince Will to create new ambitions for the life he has now, Lou has to identify her own ambitions and eventually goes back to school for fashion design the way that she always dreamed.
Will’s life never completes the ambitions he had for himself, but he is able to push Lou towards achieving more than she ever thought possible. Moyes argues that this support is a necessary part of Lou’s success, as some people need the encouragement of another person in order to set their sights higher. It is not easy for Lou to emerge from her comfort zone, but Will forces her to travel the world and advocate for herself instead of selling herself short. By the end of the novel, these choices are the most rewarding things that Lou has ever done and they are all the more satisfying because they were not easy. Ambitions may prove difficult, but Moyes asserts that the effort to achieve these ambitions is well worth it in the end.
Ambition and Achievement ThemeTracker
Ambition and Achievement Quotes in Me Before You
I am 26 years old and I wasn’t really sure what I was. Up until I lost my job I hadn’t even given it any thought…Apart from an exotic taste in clothes, and the fact that I’m a bit short, there’s not a lot separating me from anyone you might pass in the street. You probably wouldn’t look at me twice. An ordinary girl, leading an ordinary life.
“I have never found a pair of tights I loved like that again. They don’t do them anymore. Or if they do, they don’t make them for grown women.”
“Oh, you can mock. Didn’t you ever love anything that much?”
“You’re twenty-six years old, Clark. You should be out there, claiming the world as your own, getting in trouble in bars, showing off your strange wardrobe to dodgy men…”
“I’m happy here,” I said.
“Well, you shouldn’t be.”
I ran out of the room and pulled on a pair in the hallway. I pointed a toe, admiring the silliness of them. I don’t think a present had ever made me so happy in my life.
I walked back in. Will let out a small cheer. Granddad banged his hands on the table. Mum and Dad burst out laughing. Patrick just stared.
It had become a kind of specter for me, the airless little room with no windows. The thought of sleeping in there again made my chest feel tight. I was twenty-seven years old. I was the main earner of the family. I could not sleep in what was essentially a cupboard.
I thought of my parents, my sister with her big new life. Mine was to be the small life, my ambitions the petty ones. I glanced over at the maze, at its dark, dense box hedging. I was being ridiculous. Perhaps I had been behaving ridiculously for years. It was all over, after all. And I was moving on.
“Some mistakes… just have greater consequences than others. But you don’t have to let that night be the thing that defines you.”
I felt his head still pressed against mine.
“You, Clark, have the choice not to let that happen.”
I wanted to tell him that he was too good for that silly caramel woman, no matter what appearances might suggest, and that… I didn’t know what else I wanted to say. I just wanted to make it better. “You okay?” I said, as I caught up. The bottom line was, it should have been him.
“Louisa is one of the smartest people I know, but I can’t make her see her own possibilities.”
Mary Rawlinson gave him a sharp look. “Don’t patronize her, dear. She’s quite capable of answering for herself.” I blinked. “I rather think that you of all people should know that,” she added.
“Well, you don’t have to let that… that chair define you.”
“But it does define me, Clark. You don’t know me, not really. You never saw me before this thing. I loved my life, Clark. Really loved it… I led a big life.” His voice had lifted now. “I am not designed to exist in this thing – and yet for all intents and purposes it is now the thing that defines me.”
Mum? I owe Will. I owe it to him to go. Who do you think got me to apply to college? Who do you think encouraged me to make something of myself, to travel places, to have ambitions? Who changed the way I think about everything? About myself even? Will did. I’ve done more, lived more, in the last six months than in the last twenty-seven years of my life.
Push yourself. Don’t settle. Wear those stripey legs with pride… you are scored on my heart, Clark. You were from the first day you walked in, with your ridiculous clothes and your bad jokes and your complete inability to ever hide a single thing you felt… Don’t think of me too often. I don’t want to think of you getting all maudlin. Just live well. Just live.