Clay reaches Eisenhower Park, which is empty. He’ll spend the night here, listening to Hannah’s last tape before falling asleep. Most of the park’s lamps are burnt out, but moonlight bathes the top of the rocket slide. Clay climbs to the second level. Once he’s up there, he presses Play on the final tape. Hannah is whispering. She says she’s giving life one final chance and asking for help. But if people are listening to this, the person she asked for help has failed. That person is Mr. Porter. Clay is shocked—he can’t imagine bringing an adult into this, allowing him to learn all about the other students on the tapes.
The rocket slide is where Hannah felt safe, hopeful, and in control. By visiting it as he listens to Hannah’s final tape, Clay (perhaps unconsciously) honors Hannah’s life and tries to bring Hannah some symbolic comfort. His choice of location shows that he understands Hannah as a complete person who found joy in the world around her—not just the girl who died. By bringing Mr. Porter into her story, Hannah makes a bold claim about the lack of adult support in her life and how it contributed to her death by suicide.
Clay listens to the tape and hears Hannah stuffing the tape recorder into her bag. She goes into a meeting with Mr. Porter. He begins by asking her what she wants to talk about. She says, “Everything, I guess,” to which he replies, “That might take a while.” He asks her how she feels right now. She says she feels empty, like she doesn’t care about anything. Listening to the tape, Clay wills Mr. Porter to keep asking questions. Mr. Porter asks Hannah about her friends. Hannah says she doesn’t have any—that’s why she’s asking him for help, even though it was hard for her to set up this meeting.
This tape is different from the others, because it’s a record of the actual conversation Hannah has with Mr. Porter. While all the previous tapes were Hannah’s memory of what happened, this is a real-time recording, perhaps allowing Hannah’s listeners to hear proof of how neglected Hannah felt by the end of her life. Mr. Porter clearly doesn’t know much about Hannah. His assumption that she has friends shows how little people know about the reality of her life.
Mr. Porter asks Hannah how he can help. She says she wants life to stop. He tells her that’s a very serious thing to say. As Clay listens, he wants to tell Mr. Porter that Hannah knows how serious she sounds—she wants someone to hear her and understand. Clay climbs to the top level of the rocket slide. On the tape, Mr. Porter asks Hannah what led to her feeling this way. He asks her what school is like for her; she replies that it’s hard to be around the people there. She’s never sure when someone is going to “get her.”
Mr. Porter seems to treat Hannah’s hopelessness like a disciplinary matter. His tone is more authoritative than empathetic, which means he distances himself from Hannah’s feelings rather than trying to understand them. Hannah’s language here shows how threatened she feels at school; it’s as if the people around her are predators, waiting to pounce.
Hannah tells Mr. Porter about the “Who’s Hot/Who’s Not” list and how that shaped the last few years of her life, most recently her experience at a party. She can’t figure out what details to tell him, and she can’t say for sure whether the circumstance (in the hot tub with Bryce) was illegal or even whether it was rape. Mr. Porter tells her that if it wasn’t illegal—if she can’t or won’t press charges—she has two options. The first is to confront the boy, and the second is to “move on.” The boy is a senior, so he’ll be gone next year, anyway. At this suggestion, Hannah thanks Mr. Porter and leaves, saying that if nothing will change, she needs to “get on with it.” Mr. Porter tries to get her to stay, but once she leaves, he doesn’t go after her.
Hannah’s inability to express the details of the situation with Bryce in the hot tub means Mr. Porter can’t help her in any concrete way. He sees his role as a neutral observer offering practical solutions, when what Hannah clearly needs is someone to understand how powerless she feels. He doesn’t know how important his emotional support would be in this moment, given that he doesn’t make much effort to ensure her safety. Mr. Porter’s suggestion to “move on” places the onus on Hannah to figure out how to heal from her sexual assault rather than reprimanding Bryce, further highlighting how society often allows young men to escape the consequences of their actions, especially regarding sexual assault while expecting female victims to shoulder the burden of their resulting trauma on their own.
Hannah ends the final tape by saying that even when she searched for help, nobody made the effort to stop her from ending her life. A lot of people might have cared, but they didn’t care enough. Finally, she says “I’m sorry.” As the tape spins silently, Clay thinks he would’ve helped Hannah if only she had let him.
Ultimately, Hannah decides to end her life because she’s unable to reach out for the help she needs—and because the help she thinks she needs doesn’t exist. Clay’s inability to help her before it’s too late adds to the tragedy of her death.