Thirteen Reasons Why


Jay Asher

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Themes and Colors
Rumors and Reputation Theme Icon
Gender, Sexualization, and Agency Theme Icon
Guilt and Blame Theme Icon
Parental Care and Attention Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Thirteen Reasons Why, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Rumors and Reputation Theme Icon

From Hannah’s first weeks at high school, she realizes she can’t control other people’s impressions of her. When her classmate Justin spreads a rumor that Hannah’s first kiss, which he and she shared, went beyond just kissing, he’s the first to chip away at the positive image Hannah’s classmates have of her. Justin’s rumor causes Hannah’s cherished memory of her first kiss—something that made her feel happy and hopeful—to become a source of anxiety and frustration. Similarly, when another classmate, Alex, decides to write a “Who’s Hot/Who’s Not” list, putting Hannah on the “Hot” side and Jessica, his ex-girlfriend, on the “Not” side purely for revenge, he invites everyone who reads the list to judge Hannah and Jessica without their consent. Not only does the list make Hannah feel like she has even less control over the way others see her, but it destroys Hannah and Jessica’s friendship—a bond that made Hannah feel safe during her first few weeks in a new town. And when Courtney invites Hannah to a party just to make sure Hannah thinks she’s a nice person, without really caring about her at all, she breaks Hannah’s trust not just in her, but in everyone who appears to offer Hannah kindness. Though these individual actions and others like them might not seem like a big deal, for Hannah, they accumulate until she feels like she has no way to express her true self or form meaningful connections. Due to a reputation she had no part in building, and due to other people’s obsession with their own reputations, Hannah feels hopeless and isolated, and these feelings contribute to her decision to end her own life. Thirteen Reasons Why thereby shows how rumors can destroy a person’s reputation, take away their sense of control, and ultimately cause them to disassociate and lose their sense of self—and in extreme cases like Hannah’s, this can lead people to desperate actions like suicide.  

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Rumors and Reputation ThemeTracker

The ThemeTracker below shows where, and to what degree, the theme of Rumors and Reputation appears in each chapter of Thirteen Reasons Why. Click or tap on any chapter to read its Summary & Analysis.
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Rumors and Reputation Quotes in Thirteen Reasons Why

Below you will find the important quotes in Thirteen Reasons Why related to the theme of Rumors and Reputation.
Cassette 1: Side A Quotes

The dream starts with me at the top of the rocket, holding on to the steering wheel. It’s still a playground rocket, not a real one, but every time I turn the wheel to the left, the trees in the park lift up their roots and sidestep it to the left. When I turn the wheel to the right, they sidestep it to the right.

Related Characters: Hannah Baker (speaker), Justin Foley
Related Symbols: The Rocket Slide
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:
Cassette 1: Side B Quotes

A brass bell jingles when I open the door. The same bell Hannah listened to whenever she came in for a candy fix. Instead of letting it swing shut behind me, I hold the edge of the door and slowly push it shut, watching it ring the bell again.

Related Characters: Clay Jensen (speaker), Hannah Baker
Page Number: 48
Explanation and Analysis:

I’ve had my butt grabbed before—no big deal—but this time it was grabbed because someone else wrote my name on a list. And when this guy saw me upset, did he apologize? No. Instead, he got aggressive. Then, in the most condescending way, he told me to relax. Then he put his hand on my shoulder, as if by touching me he’d somehow comfort me.

Related Characters: Hannah Baker (speaker), Alex Standall
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:
Cassette 2: Side A Quotes

For Jessica, it was easier to think of me as Bad Hannah than as the Hannah she got to know at Monet’s. It was easier to accept. Easier to understand.

For her, the rumors needed to be true.

Related Characters: Hannah Baker (speaker), Jessica Davis, Alex Standall
Page Number: 66
Explanation and Analysis:
Cassette 3: Side A Quotes

Watching those guys pummel each other so no one would suspect them of being weak was too much for me. Their reputations were more important than their faces. And Courtney’s reputation was more important than my reputation.

Related Characters: Hannah Baker (speaker), Courtney Crimsen
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:
Cassette 3: Side B Quotes

Right then, in that office, with the realization that no one knew the truth about my life, my thoughts about the world were shaken.

Like driving along a bumpy road and losing control of the steering wheel, tossing you—just a tad—off the road. The wheels kick up some dirt, but you’re able to pull it back. Yet no matter how tightly you grip the wheel, no matter how hard you try to drive straight, something keeps jerking you to the side. You have so little control over anything anymore. And at some point, the struggle becomes too much—too tiring—and you consider letting go. Allowing tragedy… or whatever… to happen.

Related Characters: Hannah Baker (speaker), Courtney Crimsen
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:
Cassette 4: Side B Quotes

Why, whenever anyone saw us, did I pretend it meant nothing? We were working, that’s what I wanted them to believe. Not hanging out. Just working.


Because Hannah had a reputation. A reputation that scared me.

Related Characters: Clay Jensen (speaker), Hannah Baker
Page Number: 180
Explanation and Analysis:
Cassette 6: Side B Quotes

Just two more to go. Don’t give up on me now.

I’m sorry. I guess that’s an odd thing to say. Because isn’t that what I’m doing? Giving up?

Yes. As a matter of fact, I am. And that, more than anything else, is what this all comes down to. Me… giving up… on me.

No matter what I’ve said so far, no matter who I’ve spoken of, it all comes back to—it all ends with—me.

Related Characters: Hannah Baker (speaker)
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis: