Patrick, a high school senior who befriends Charlie, comes to replace the role that Michael filled in Charlie’s life in middle school. Charlie approaches Patrick at the homecoming football game because Charlie recognizes him as the kid from shop class whose nickname is “Nothing.” But Charlie doesn’t refer to Patrick as “Nothing,” and Patrick becomes a full-fledged, faithful friend. Patrick, Sam, and Charlie form a close trio, a sort of strange triumvirate or Three Musketeers-esque band of misfits. When Patrick accepts Charlie and folds him into his friend group, Patrick demonstrates the vital importance of being inclusive.
Even though Patrick accepts and embraces others’ quirks, Patrick himself must face the brute force of bigotry. Patrick is gay, and throughout most of the novel, he is having a closeted affair with Brad, the quarterback of the football team. Throughout much of the novel, Patrick and Brad privately see each other but do not interact romantically in public, and their tacit arrangement seems to work well for them. However, when Brad’s father finds out about the relationship and Brad withdraws, Patrick gets thrown into a depressed spiral. Even though Patrick often seems lighthearted, spontaneous, and a bit goofy, his sexuality is still raw and new, and Brad’s derogatory comments hurt him tremendously. In a role reversal from the beginning of the novel, Patrick turns to Charlie for emotional support, rather than the other way around.
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