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How Jay Asher used Symbolism in Thirteen Reasons Why


Jay Asher’s novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, uses symbolism, imagery and allegory to explain the suicidal action of his character Hannah Baker and the reasons as to why she took her life. The Blue Nail Polish, Oh My Dollar Valentines, Hannah’s Scar and the comparison between Romeo and Juliet all support Hannah’s reason for committing suicide. Jay Asher wrote the novel to express that every person affects someone
The characters mentioned in the novel all have a playing role in her final decision. The thirteen people she mentions in the tapes symbolize the thirteen different experiences that each person provides her. She sends tapes explaining why these people are on them and how they were all linked to her suicide. Hannah’s tapes were numbered in blue nail polish, and she was wearing blue nail polish the last time Clay, the protagonist, saw her – the last day of her life. He remembered the moment:
“We almost bumped into each other. But your eyes were down so you didn’t know it was me. And together, we said it. “I’m sorry.” [. . . ] And there in your eyes, what was it? Sadness? Pain? You moved around me and tried pushing your hair away from your face. Your fingernails were dark blue. I watched you walk down the long hallway, with people knocking into me. But I didn’t care. (14.60, 62)”
At that point, she had already recorded the tapes and mailed them to Justin Foley. Even if she were to recognize the strong feelings Clay obviously had for her, it was already too late and she had made her decision. Since she used blue nail polish to number the tapes (her last words), and she was wearing it on her last day on earth, it symbolized the finality of her decision. Suicide is irreversible.
The nail polish might have also been a symbol of the sweet, romantic girl Hannah was. She was someone who wanted to paint her nails, dress up, and experience romance and love. The very typical teenaged girl quality, funky-colored…



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