Cassette 6: Sides A & B

Summary: Cassette 6: Side A

Tony explains his involvement with the tapes to Clay. Several days before taking her life, Hannah visited Tony and tried to give him her bike. She told him that he might need it since he drove such an old car. Tony tells Clay that he should have recognized that giving away possessions is a sign of someone contemplating suicide. Tony tells Clay that he told Hannah that he couldn’t take her bike without giving her something in exchange, and she then asked him how he made the tapes that he listens to in his car. This led to Tony giving Hannah his old tape recorder, which she later used to record her tapes.

A few days later, Tony received Hannah’s tapes. He listened through them to find out if his name was mentioned, but when it was not, he figured out that he was meant to hold on to the second set of tapes and make sure Hannah’s wishes about the primary set were carried out. When Hannah was missing from school the next day, Tony set about to make sure that everyone who received them listened to them.

Clay calls his mother and tells her that he might have to stay at Tony’s, because he is still working on a project. Tony says hello into the phone to back up Clay’s story. He then offers Clay a ride, but Clay turns him down and walks away, starting the next tape.

Hannah sat at the party, completely overwhelmed by what she’d seen while hiding in the bedroom closet. Eventually, she accepted a ride home from Jenny Kurtz and was relieved when Jenny didn’t ask her any questions about the night. Hannah says that she has not discussed the night’s events since then, except for once, but “he didn’t want to hear it.” Clay wonders if that encounter will be disclosed on an upcoming tape.

There was a light rain outside while Jenny drove Hannah home, and she ran over a stop sign. Clay realizes that the downed stop sign caused the fatal car accident that he witnessed after the party. Hannah tried to convince Jenny that she was in no condition to drive and that they should get a ride, but—not wanting to get blamed for running over the sign—Jenny insisted that she was fine. Hannah then asked to borrow Jenny’s phone to call the police to report the damaged sign. Instead, Jenny told Hannah to get out of the car and then drove off. Hannah says that she should have run back to the party to call the police, but instead she just wandered aimlessly, still overwhelmed with emotions. When she finally did call, she was told that an accident had already been reported.

Hannah has marked the spot where she called the police on the map, but Clay doesn’t want to follow the map anymore. He crumples it into a ball and throws it into some bushes.

Hannah describes the day of the funeral for the student killed in the crash, and how she started thinking about her own death—again wandering around, obviously upset and afraid to go home. Listening to the tapes, Clay too is walks around aimlessly, overwhelmed by emotions.

Summary: Cassette 6: Side B

Hannah starts the next tape by saying that all the events she’s described come down to her giving up on herself. She contemplated various methods of suicide and finally decided on taking pills, thinking that it would be the least painful. Hannah says that she will mail the primary set of tapes to Justin, and then there will be no turning back. She will see everyone at school one last time, and anytime she speaks to someone she knows that it will be the last time. Clay remembers bumping into Hannah on her last day at school. They apologized to each other, and Clay watched her walk off down the hall.

Hannah then describes another party, one that took place two houses down from where she was housesitting for a friend. She had no intention of attending the party, since she was still upset over the previous one and the traumatic events associated with it. The sound of this party, even from two houses away, made Hannah feel like she was back in the closet while Jessica was being assaulted. She mentions that the location of the party, Courtney Crimsen’s house, is marked on the map, but Clay intentionally walks in the opposite direction.

After the party was over, Hannah walked down to Courtney’s house, checking to see if anyone needed a ride home or other assistance. While she passed the house, Bryce Walker called to Hannah and invited her over to the hot tub, where he and Courtney were sobering up. Bryce and Courtney were both in their underwear, and despite not trusting either of them, Hannah decided to strip down to her underwear and join them. Hannah explains that she was done with fighting.

Hannah describes how Bryce slid over beside her and started rubbing her stomach. Upon hearing this, Clay becomes enraged and starts punching a chain link fence because he knows that he’s going to hear on the tape will be terrible. Hannah says that she turned her head away and started to cry, but never told Bryce to stop. After Courtney left the hot tub, Bryce slid his hand into Hannah’s underwear. Hannah states that at that point she let reputation catch up with her. She says that Bryce disgusted her, but “I was using you, I needed you, so I could let go of me, completely.”

Clay ends up slicing his hand on the chain link while listening to Hannah describe Bryce taking advantage of her. He walks to a gas station and cleans the cut on his hand in the bathroom with rubbing alcohol. After Clay leaves, he puts in the last tape (marked “13”) and jogs toward Eisenhower Park.

Analysis: Cassette 6: Sides A & B

Cassette 6 illustrates the power of guilt to motivate people to act. Clay’s guilt for leaving Hannah alone at the party is compounded when he hears her whole story, and it makes him physically ill. When Tony tells Clay that he should have known Hannah was suicidal, he reveals his own guilt. Tony gave Hannah the recorder to make the tapes, and his guilt motivates him to follow Clay and the other tape recipients to make sure they listen to Hannah’s story. It also motivates Tony to look out for Clay because he can’t bear the guilt of another suicide he might have prevented. Hannah is weighed down by guilt over Jessica’s rape and the death that results from not reporting Jenny Kurtz’s accident. These layers of guilt overwhelm an already fragile Hannah and motivate her to consider suicide as an escape. As she wonders about the funeral of the boy killed in the accident, Hannah dreams of her own funeral. Guilt has different consequences for all of the characters, but for Hannah, the consequences of guilt are fatal.

Hannah escapes her guilt through suicide, but before ending her life, guilt motivates her to create the tapes and right some of her wrongs. Clay’s knowledge of Hannah’s whole story allows him to truly understand her, providing him with the connection that Hannah deprived him of while she was alive. Hannah’s story reveals the truth so that no one can claim innocence or lie about what they did. The stop sign symbolizes how anyone connected with this chain of events could have made a better choice, but their failure to do so had damaging consequences. Hannah needs the listeners to hear her story, not to blame them or increase their guilt, but because she wants them to understand the impact of their actions and be better people in the future.

On Cassette 6, Hannah takes responsibility for her suicide in an attempt to absolve the listeners of any guilt they might feel for her death. She reveals their secrets and their harmful actions in telling her own story, but in the end, she accepts responsibility for her decision and does not blame anyone for her choice. By describing average events in school as “last moments,” she foreshadows what she’s about to do. Sadly, Clay’s memory of the same moments demonstrates how deeply he wanted to connect with Hannah and how guilty he feels for failing to act. Hannah uses the incident with Bryce to distance herself completely from her life, further demonstrating that the decision is hers and hers alone. Hannah no longer struggles to say the word suicide, symbolizing her total acceptance of the idea.