Cassette 7: Sides A & B & Epilogue

Summary: Cassette 7: Side A

Clay reaches Eisenhower Park and climbs inside the metal rocket ship where Hannah had her first kiss with Justin years earlier. Clay starts the final tape and Hannah says she’s going to make one last try. Hannah hides the tape recorder in her backpack and walks into the office of Mr. Porter, her English teacher and guidance counselor. Clay realizes that Mr. Porter, and adult, will eventually hear everything on the tapes.

Clay listens to the conversation between Hannah and Mr. Porter. Mr. Porter attempts to find out what is occurring in Hannah’s life that is bothering her. She responds that everything in her life is difficult and she is turning to him. When Hannah tells Mr. Porter that she wants her life to stop, his response is that this it is a very serious thing to say. Hannah apologizes and Mr. Porter continues to ask her questions, trying to understand some of the challenges in her life. 

Eventually, Hannah tells Mr. Porter that, aside from the rumors about her in school, there is something else is bothering her: something that happened with a boy at a party. When Mr. Porter asks if what happened might be considered illegal, Hannah replies, “You mean rape? No. I don’t think so.” They continue to talk, and Mr. Porter tells her that if she is not willing to press charges, she has two options. The first option is for him to call the boy in, so she can confront him, and the other option is for Hannah to “move on.” Hannah gets upset, thinking that Mr. Porter is telling her to get over it and leaves his office. He asks why she is leaving so suddenly, but he doesn’t follow her out into the hall. The final tape ends with: “A lot of you cared, just not enough. And that… that is what I needed to find out. And I did find out. And I’m sorry.” 

As Clay realizes that these are the last words that he will ever hear from Hannah Baker, he starts to cry. He thinks to himself that he would have helped her if she’d just let him, and that he would have helped her because he wanted her to live.

Summary: Cassette 7: Side B

The Walkman starts to play side B of Cassette 7. Clay sits listening to the static hiss of the final side. As he tries to take in everything that he’s heard, Clay hears an intake of breath on the tape, and then Hannah Baker’s voice says, “Thank you.”

Summary: The Next Day After Mailing the Tapes

After mailing the tapes to Jenny Kurtz, Clay doesn’t want to go to school and see all of the people mentioned on the tapes—many of whom he knows have already listened to them. Clay shows up late, trying to skip first period because he doesn’t want to see either Mr. Porter or Hannah’s empty desk. While in the hall in front of his locker, Clay sees Skye Miller and regrets not having talked to her on the bus. Clay realizes that over the years Skye has learned to avoid everyone. He watches Skye walk in the same part of hall where I saw Hannah walk away for the last time, and then he hurries to catch up to her. When Clay reaches Skye, he says her name.

Analysis: Cassette 7: Sides A & B & Epilogue

Cassette 7 suggests that even after she made up her mind to commit suicide, Hannah still attempted to make connections, revealing a sliver of hope. Reaching out to Mr. Porter shows that she feels she has nothing left to lose. Mr. Porter struggles to connect with Hannah, and though he means well, his focus on how her life appears clouds his view of the true Hannah. He sees her with people in the halls, so he assumes she has friends. He’s aware of the snowball effect but can’t grasp the devastating impact rumors and reputation have had on Hannah’s self-esteem. Hannah’s lack of satisfaction with Mr. Porter’s suggestions convinces her that she is beyond help. Hannah believes that she’s been clear about her intentions, and no one cares enough to understand, to connect, or to stop her. Clay’s narration implies that Hannah was not clear about her suicidal thoughts, and she did not allow anyone to get close enough to truly understand and connect with her. By telling her story and committing suicide before allowing people to hear it, Hannah robbed herself and her listeners of a chance to connect.

 Thirteen Reasons Why ends with Clay’s return to the park and the rocket ship where Hannah’s story began, and the setting’s physical transformation symbolizes his inability to go back in time and change Hannah’s ending. Surrounded by lampposts with broken lightbulbs, the rocket ship sits in darkness, no longer symbolizing romantic potential as it did when Hannah first met Justin. Now, it is a stark reminder that Clay can’t rewind to the moments when he could have made a difference. While he is listening to Hannah’s tapes, he can hit pause or stop, but he can’t do the same with life. Through hearing her story, Clay has finally connected to Hannah, but he is also forced to accept that he cannot go back and save her. With no way to change the past, Clay reaches out to Skye, revealing that he has learned that he can change the future by acting on feelings before it’s too late.