Chapters One & Two
Summary: Chapter One (Evanston Will)
Will Grayson is a teenage high school student in Chicago and best friends with Tiny Cooper. Will describes Tiny as possibly the “world’s largest person who is really, really gay and also the world’s gayest person who is really, really large.” Their friendship drifted apart last semester, when Will Grayson joined a new circle of friends. Will writes a letter to the school newspaper stating that Tiny Cooper should be allowed on the football team, despite being gay. Clint (a member of Will’s new group of friends) calls Will a “bitchsquealer.” Will does not know what this means but leaves the new group of friends. He and Tiny have been reunited for a few weeks, along with Tiny’s new friends in the Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA). Will’s major issue with Tiny is that Tiny is always falling in love with new boyfriends and always telling the world about his feelings. Will believes in two rules: 1) “Don’t care too much” and 2) “Shut up.” Will does not show emotions and tries not to get too attached to anyone or anything.
Tiny calls Will and tells him that Neutral Milk Hotel (NMH) is playing a secret reunion show at a local dive bar. The two meet Gary and Jane (Tiny’s friends in the GSA) and wait in line outside. The show is 21 and over, so the group creates a diversion for Will, since he is the only one without a fake ID. Once they are inside, the band appears and starts to play. Everyone soon realizes that it is not NMH but Ashland Avenue, a band that the audience does not enjoy. Tiny finds Will and tells him that his latest boyfriend has broken up with him by way of a Facebook status update. Tiny starts wailing and consuming alcohol. Will wonders if Jane is gay.
Will and Jane manage to get Tiny back to his home. Tiny has the “world’s richest parents” and actually lives in his own three-bedroom house on his parent’s property, beside their mansion. When Jane smiles at Will, he thinks that she is quite pretty, but reassures himself that she is not his type. When Tiny passes out on the carpet, Will thinks that all the snot built up in his nose and on his face might cause him to choke. Will clears the snot from Tiny while Jane watches.
Summary: Chapter Two (Naperville Will)
This chapter is narrated by a different character, also named Will Grayson, who lives in Naperville, outside Chicago. The writing is all in lowercase. This Will suffers from depression, despite taking medication, and is very negative and cynical. He says things like “every morning i pray that the school bus will crash and we’ll all die in a fiery wreck.”
The Naperville Will has only a few friends at school: Maura, Derek, and Simon. Maura is romantically interested in Will, but he does not feel the same toward her. Derek and Simon are only interested in computers. Will feels that his teachers are pathetic, for either attempting to maintain power and control over the students or attempting to be the students’ best friend. He writes offensive things in his French class, stating that he does not care. He works part time at CVS to help his single mother. His mother is nice to him and tries to ask about his day, but Will finds her questions annoying and wishes that she would leave him alone.
When Will gets home from school, he spends his time watching episodes of Law & Order and instant-messaging with a boy named Isaac whenever Isaac is available. Isaac lives in Ohio and neither of them own a car. Will craves communication from Isaac, counting the minutes until he can log back on. He has not told anyone else about Isaac.
Isaac sends Will an email that says, “you completely unscatter me.” The email ends with, “GOD I AM SO IN LOVE.”
Analysis: Chapters One & Two
Green, who authors Evanston Will’s chapters, uses the literary device of irony throughout the first chapter to introduce the main characters of the Evanston Will’s story. The first example of irony is Tiny Cooper, whose large physical stature is the opposite of what his name suggests. Tiny’s contrasting name and appearance suggests that his character defies stereotypes. In another instance of irony, despite Will’s philosophy of shutting up and not caring, he writes a letter defending Tiny and his use of the football locker room. The irony here is that Will portrays himself as quiet and cowardly but it takes courage to publicly speak up for his friend. Finally, at the start of the chapter, Will said his father told him that he could pick his friends and his nose, but not his friend’s nose. Ironically, at the end of the chapter, Will picks Tiny’s nose, the only action his father said he couldn’t do.
Levithan, who authors Naperville Will’s chapters, uses typography, specifically capitalization (or lack thereof), for the characterization of Naperville Will. Will suffers from depression, and this mental illness negatively effects his self-esteem and his view of the world. He portrays his life and the people in it to be monotonous, predictable, and frustrating. This complex mental illness is portrayed through the lack of capitalization throughout Naperville Will’s chapters. With no capitalization of proper nouns, Will shows that nothing has importance, not even “I” when he talks of himself. Everything is leveled out, likely also a side effect of his antidepressants which he later describes as having a zombie-like effect on his mind and body. Will has difficulty untangling his emotions and they fall into two extremes the majority of the time: anger and love. The power of these emotions is displayed in two areas of the chapter where capitalization is used. To express the power his anger has, Will says, “I KICK YOUR ASS.” Then, the last line of the chapter says, “GOD I AM SO IN LOVE.” Will’s mental health teeters on the moroseness of his depression and tips into anger and love as evidenced by the use of capitalization.