Moyes considers many answers to the question, “What makes life worth living?” One possible answer is money and status, as the well-to-do and high-society Traynor family seems to have everything that the Clark family, stuck living pay-check to pay-check, desires. Yet though Will owns a castle and can pay for anything he wants, his wealth does not console him after his accident and it does not bring the Traynor family closer together, as Moyes argues that money cannot make people happy or be the only end goal of a fulfilling life. Another possible answer is adventure, given the thrilling life that Will led before his accident and Will’s many attempts to force Lou into having those type of adventures as well. Lou learns that some amount of adventure is a satisfying addition to her otherwise ordinary life, but that the true meaning of life cannot be something that is so easily taken away by a loss of health or finances. The ordinary moments of life are just as, if not more, meaningful to Lou in the end.
The final answer Moyes considers is love. With Will stuck in a depression that no amount of money or wheelchair-friendly adventures can shake, his love for Lou and Lou’s love for him is the only thing that gives Will true happiness in his final months. This love is also reflected in Will and Lou’s families, as each of Will and Lou’s family members find ways to support and care for each other through the difficult situations of Will’s condition. Yet even love cannot be the only reason for life, as Will decides when he continues with his plan to end his life on his own terms. Lou also confronts the edges of romantic and familial love as she has to accept and support Will’s dignified suicide even though it strains her relationship with her mother and means that her love story with Will has an end.
Though Moyes presents Will’s choice to end his life sympathetically, Moyes doesn’t suggest (or claims that she doesn’t intend to, at least) that some lives are not worth living. Moyes ultimately argues that each person must find their own individual, specific reason to live each day to the fullest. These choices and decisions are what gives life purpose, and Will unfortunately loses sight of all the choices he can still make after some of his choices are taken away by his accident. Moyes’ main message is that life is meant to be lived well however a person can manage it, because life itself, in all its various, beautiful forms, is the only worthwhile reason for living. While Lou manages to find her own reasons to keep living after she survives sexual assault and the loss of the man she loves, she has to respect the choices that Will makes to live and die on his own terms, no matter how flawed his choice might be.
Quality of Life ThemeTracker
Quality of Life Quotes in Me Before You
I had never considered that you might miss a job the way you miss a limb – a constant, reflexive thing. I hadn’t thought that as well as the obvious fears about money, and your future, losing your job would make you feel inadequate, and a bit useless.
“You were just looking at my photographs. Wondering how awful it must be to live like that and then turn into a cripple.”
“I know what you’re thinking,” she said, after a pause. “But I did try. I really tried. For months. And he just pushed me away… You know, you can only actually help someone who wants to be helped,” she said.
“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.”
“If you’d bothered to ask me, Clark, if you’d bothered to consult me just once about this so-called fun outing of ours, I could have told you. I hate horses, and horse racing. Always have. But you didn’t bother to ask me. You decided what you thought you’d like me to do, and you went ahead and did it. You did what everyone else does. You decided for me.”
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.
It’s not my choice. It’s not the choice of most of us on this board. I love my life, even if I wish it was different…If he is determined, if he really can’t see a way of things being better for him, then I guess the best thing you can do is just be there. You don’t have to think he’s right. But you do have to be there.
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.