The Rocket Ship
rocket ship symbolizes Hannah’s happy place. The rocket ship reminded Hannah of her home, which is seen when she says,
“My old town had a park similar to Eisenhower Park in one way: They both had that rocket ship.” (Page 24)
The rocket ship represented Hannah’s security and innocence. It was the place that appeared in
her dreams, and it was the place where she got her first kiss by Justin Foley. This is understood when Hannah says, “I
think that’s the reason, in my dreams, my first kiss took place at the rocket ship. It reminded me of innocence. And
I wanted my first kiss to be just that. Innocent.” (Page 25)
T-shaped road described represents Hannah’s life becoming a crossroad. On the cassettes Hannah talks about a T-shaped
road that she walked to get to her old house. “Two streets meet on front of my old house like an upside-down T.”
(Page 15) This T-shaped crossroad represents Hannah’s life becoming a crossroad. Hannah feels caught between two different
paths, and does not know which way to turn for help.
rumors symbolize Hannah’s loss of privacy and security. Hannah received her first kiss by Justin Foley, at the Eisenhower
Park. Justin made up things rumors about how experienced Hannah was with guys. The kids at school found out about these rumors,
and they kept on being passed on from one student to the next. Hannah was then known amongst the students as a slut. That
rumor led to further rumors, and Hannah felt as if her private life did not seem to matter anymore. This is expressed when
Hannah states, “A rumor based on a kiss ruined a memory that I hoped would be special. A rumor based on a kiss started
a reputation that other people believed in and reacted to. And sometimes, a rumor based on a kiss has a snowball effect. A
rumor, based on a kiss, is just the beginning.” (Page 30-31)
Hot/Not represents the loss of Hannah’s dignity. Alex Daniel created a Hot/Not list. Hannah’s name was found under
the “Hot” column, where she was voted “freshman with the best ass.” This list ruined Hannah’s
reputation. The rumors were at the school to begin with, but the list is what led to the loss of respect people gave her.
Hannah states, “Every single event documented here may never have happened had you, Alex, not written my name on that
list. It’s that simple.” (Page 41)
scar is a symbol of betrayal, and the loss of a friend. Jessica Davis is responsible for that scar. Jessica was Hannah’s
first friend when Hannah moved. Jessica was angry with Hannah because Hannah was put on the “Hot” side of the
Hot/Not list, and Jessica was placed on the opposite side in the “Not” column. Jessica insisted on meeting with
Hannah to talk about this. She was not happy with Hannah’s unserious attitude. She became frustrated, and her anger
turned physical. This is explained when Hannah says, “So tell me, Jessica, which did you mean to do? Punch me, or scratch
me? Because it felt like a little bit of both.” (Page 67)
Jessica’s scratch left a permanent scar on Hannah’s forehead. “That tiny scar you’ve
all seen above my eyebrow, that’s the shape of Jessica’s fingernail…which I plucked out myself. But it’s
more than just a scratch. It’s a punch in the stomach and a slap in the face. It’s a knife in my back because
you would rather believe some made-up rumor than what you knew to be true.” (Page 68)
Monet’s Garden symbolizes friendship. Monet’s Garden was a small restaurant in town. When
Hannah, Jessica, and Alex first became friends, they would meet at Monet’s to hang out. They talked and shared jokes
with each other. Monet’s Garden became a special bond that they all shared. This is shown when Hannah states, “Monet’s
Garden was our safe haven. If one of us had a hard time fitting in or meeting people we’d go to Monet’s. Back
in the garden, at the far table to the right.” (Page 62)
After a while the three friends stopped coming to Monet’s. The friendship that formed between
Hannah, Jessica, and Alex became lost. They were friendly when they saw each other in the hallways at school, but it did never
went beyond that.
photograph symbolizes the false friendship of Hannah and Courtney. Hannah enjoyed being friends with Courtney, until she realized
that Courtney was using her to get rides to parties. Hannah felt betrayed, and even more alone, because Courtney made it clear
that Hannah could not trust anyone.
photo was taken for the yearbook of Hannah and Courtney at a party together. The photo represents the fake friendship of the
two girls. This is shown when Hannah says, “Anyone looking at that photo would definitely not be sharing our moment.
They could not come close to imagining my thought in that picture…Everything about it was false.” (Page 124)
the end of the novel Clay cuts himself. His pain is described when he remarks,
“The cuts sting, but I mostly feel weak from the sight of my own blood.”
(pg. 266). This physical pain described seems to be parallel to Hannah’s
emotional pain. Therefore, Clay’s cut symbolizes Hannah’s emotional
pain. After the thirteen bad things that happened to Hannah during the course
of the novel, only cuts that keep Clay in the hospital overnight could come close to Hannah’s emotional pain.
one of Hannah’s stories there is a stop sign that is hit and falls over. This
stop sign symbolizes Hannah’s decision to commit suicide. By the stop sign
not being there, there was nothing to tell Hannah to “stop.” Clay
mentions how “We [everyone on the tapes] all could have stopped it. We
all could have stopped something…You” (pg. 246). But there was no
“sign” to tell the people on the tapes what was going on in Hannah’s head.
go to gas stations in order to regain energy. Clay goes to the gas station when
he only has one tape left. He needs to regain energy from the tape experience. These tapes are an emotional drain. The
absence of Clay’s energy after the tapes is described when Clay “rub[s] the sleep from my [Clay’s] eyes”
(pg. 2). Therefore, it is fitting that Clay goes to the gas station, just like
a car would, when he is low on energy.
Notes of Encouragement
one class, a teacher gave every student a bag in order to receive notes from other classmates that are meant to encourage
the student. One student stole all of Hannah’s notes. Hannah became very upset by this. These notes of encouragement
represent Hannah’s hope. At the beginning of the tapes, Hannah is very
hopeful. But, soon all of her reasons for being hopeful get “stolen.” Hannah describes how much she needed the notes when she says, “My world was
collapsing. I needed those notes. I
needed any hope those notes might have offered.” (page 165). After this
point in the novel, Hannah starts thinking about suicide. The missing notes show
how Hannah’s hope was gone.
Hannah gets a drastic haircut right before
Hannah’s class learns about suicide. On the warning sign sheet for suicidal
behavior, the in the top five was “A sudden change in appearance.” (pg. 173).
Hannah then remarks, “Huh. Who knew I was so predictable.”
(pg 173). Hannah’s haircut symbolizes her reputation. During the novel, Hannah describes how she had an undeserved bad reputation. However, later in the novel she describes how her reputation has caught up with her. Hannah’s haircut is the first sign in the novel that describes Hannah’s predictability that
was never there before.
the party Hannah went into the closet, “pulled the closet doors shut. And
I [Hannah] shut my eyes tight.” (pg. 226). This is Hannah’s way of
hiding from what was happening in the room, so she would not be a part of what was going on.
In the novel, Hannah does not just hide from the problem in that room, she hides from all of her problems. The closet represents Hannah’s trait of avoiding her problems.
Instead of dealing from her problems, Hannah dwells on the negative ways that they impact her life. This symbol of
Hannah’s character flaw is very significant in the novel.
The Pinball Machine
one plays pinball, they try to stop a ball from going into a hole (basically stop the ball from dying). There are multiple flippers that help knock the ball away from the hole.
But the pinball machine in the book has a “hand-scribbled Out of Order sign” (pg. 150). If the ball is out there, there is nothing to stop it from falling.
This pinball machine symbolizes the twelve people on Hannah’s tapes. These
people did nothing to help Hannah in her time of need. The pinball machine is
a very important symbol in the novel.
Paint on the Work Bench
During the beginning of the novel paint on a bench is described when “I [Clay] pick at a speck
of dry orange paint on the work bench.” (pg. 14). This paint that Clay
picks off represents Hannah. Before, this spot of paint was with all of the other
spots of paint on the bench, and then it is picked off and is separated. But,
the spot would always be noticed because the paint is missing there. Hannah commits
suicide and is no longer with Clay and everyone else. But, everyone will always
remember Hannah, so her missing spot in the world will always be noticeable.