first Chapter of the story begins with Hannah’s introduction to the tapes that she made.
These tapes tell Hannah’s reasons for ending her life. She hopes
that each reason would be as compelling to the listener as they were to her. These
tapes tell thirteen different reasons. The reasons pull in twelve different people
who Hannah blames for her suicide (one person is brought in twice). Hannah gives
two rules for the tapes, “Rule number one: You listen. Number two: You
pass it on.” She goes on to say that there is someone entrusted with a
second set of tapes, and if one of the two rules are broken, then that person would release the tapes publically. No one who is on the tapes would want that to happen. Clay
is very upset and confused by this. He never imagined that he did something wrong
to Hannah. In fact, he had a crush on her.
Hannah also describes how there is a map that she gave to everyone on the list.
This map, along with Hannah’s directions, would guide the listeners through the city.
Reason number one is centered on Justin Foley. Hannah starts this tape
by talking about when the two first met. At the time, Justin was dating Hannah’s
friend Kat. Justin is described as the type of guy who people wanted to be around. Clay talks about how all of the guys would play basketball with Justin in order to
make the team. Justin’s relationship ends with Kat after she moves away. Hannah falls in love with Justin. Eventually,
Justin becomes Hannah’s boyfriend. Hannah wanted her first kiss from Justin. She had many dreams about this.
Hannah’s first kiss takes place at a park. Hannah portrays the kiss
to being almost exactly like her dream. However, this dream only lasted for about
a week for Hannah. Rumors were spread of what Hannah and Justin did that night
at the park. Hannah says that these rumors begin as a result of Justin bragging
about what he did with Hannah.
While Hannah was describing her feelings about Justin, Clay was in his room with an old tape player. Clay’s mom frequently came into Clay’s room and tried to talk to Clay. In order to avoid his mother’s interruptions and to find a tape player with headphones, Clay decides
to go to his friend Tony’s house once the tape is over. Tony has a Walkman
that Clay steals.
chapter introduces many of Hannah’s main conflicts in the novel. Hannah’s
first conflicts arise from the rumors about her. These rumors are essentially
the core of all of Hannah’s problems. These rumors also start the “snowball”
that Hannah touches upon multiple times during the novel. However, these rumors
could have been avoided if Justin would have kept his pride of kissing Hannah to himself.
If he did not tell people that he kissed Hannah, then people would not have expanded this fact into a lie that started
Hannah’s bad name.
Not only did these new rumors lead to many problems Hannah experiences in the story, they also ruined Hannah’s
first kiss. This first emotional problem introduces Hannah’s weakness to
what other people think about her. Hannah would spend most of the novel (until
almost the very end) dwelling on how her reputation impacts upon what happens to her.
Hannah makes note in this chapter how she wanted “to be in control of how people saw me.” This line suggests that Hannah wants control, but may not gain control.
Hannah’s obsession with what others think about her is a very important character trait that is introduced in
this chapter. These two problems set the stage for more problems to come.
This chapter is important also due to the introduction of Hannah Baker, the second main character in the novel. Hannah is originally portrayed as an ambitious girl who is very smart. These characteristics are depicted when Hannah talks about the tape system.
This system is very complicated, and requires a lot more advanced planning than could be expected of most girls in
Hannah is also portrayed in this chapter as being very innocent. She has
just moved into this new school and she looks forward to the “second chance.”
These characteristics contradict most of the rumors that will be told about Hannah by people in her school. This contrast also causes the reader to feel sympathy for Hannah when she is targeted by rumors that she
does not deserve. This idea of an undeserved, bad reputation will pop up multiple
times in the novel.