Chapters Seventeen & Eighteen
Summary: Chapter Seventeen (Evanston Will)
Evanston Will learns from Jane that Tiny has broken up with Naperville Will, but Tiny does not mention it to him. Evanston Will believes that this is a sign that he and Tiny are no longer friends. Tiny asks Will to hang out after rehearsal but Will turns him down and says that he is tired of being Tiny’s Plan B. Jane and Will have a conversation where Jane wants Will to admit that they are actually dating. She tells him that “if you don’t say the honest thing, it never becomes true.” Will tells her that they are definitely dating, but he runs off because he realizes that he loves Tiny.
Will finds Tiny at the Little League field, sitting in the dugout. Tiny apologizes for the things that he told Gary on stage. He does not apologize for what he said, but that he never said them to Will’s face. Will apologizes for being a terrible best friend and tells Tiny that he, too, is a terrible best friend. Will tells Tiny that he loves him and always wants him in his life. When Will offers to help with the musical, Tiny gives him a note that has explicit instructions on how he can help backstage and watch the musical at the same time. It also states that Tiny does not resent the lack of appreciation from Jane and Will, even though he is responsible for bringing them together. They part as friends.
Summary: Chapter Eighteen (Naperville Will)
Naperville Will is filled with confusion and anger. He contacts Evanston Will on Instant Messenger. Evanston Will tells him that Tiny is nervous about the success of the musical. He also tells Naperville Will that he has recently learned that life is not “trial and error,” but a long series of trials and errors until you find it. They discuss whether it would be appropriate for Naperville Will to attend the musical. They exchange numbers so Evanston Will can warn Tiny if necessary. Naperville Will’s mother notices that he is more angry than usual. She tells him about how she used to have to get away from the house, so she could scream about the state of her life. She tells Will that he should go to Tiny’s play and that he should talk to Maura.
Will talks to Gideon, hoping that Gideon will tell him that he has nothing to be ashamed of and has done nothing wrong. Instead, Gideon tells him that he will drive Will to Tiny’s musical, and that Will should talk to Maura. While Gideon pulls his car around the school, Will approaches Maura. He apologizes to her for treating her poorly in their friendship, but also points out that what she did was still really terrible. They both say that they are sorry, and Will leaves. Will and Gideon drive to Evanston to see Tiny’s musical. Gideon tells Will that he has a plan. Will thinks that it is “sick and twisted and brilliant.”
Analysis: Chapters Seventeen & Eighteen
The importance of truth is prevalent in Evanston Will’s chapter, particularly as it applies to love. Evanston Will is talking to Tiny again but neither of them are really saying anything; their conversations are surface level, with both hiding their true feeling underneath. Will is learning that in moving on from his rule of shutting up, it’s not enough to just talk. He must be honest in what he says, particularly with the people he loves. Jane tells Will, “If you don’t say the honest thing, sometimes the honest thing never becomes true.” Jane acts as a gateway for Will’s love. He is more familiar with romantic love than love between friends as proven by its constant reference in the art and culture he consumes. With Jane, he takes his first steps in sharing his true feelings and she encourages him to talk to Tiny. The honest moments Will has with Jane open the door to the love he feels for Tiny which is far more complex particularly because of their long history. When both Tiny and Will share their truths with each other their barriers are broken down allowing for a deeper love and connection between friends.
Naperville Will is also learning important lessons about truth, particularly as it applies to healing. When the story returns to his point of view, he is stagnant. Will has returned to his old ways of shutting himself off to the world and it has made him angrier than ever. His feelings bubble under the surface and the closest he can get to communicating is asking vague questions he claims are random. However, he cannot fool his mother. She has noticed his anger and shares her coping mechanism with her son. By sharing her own feelings of anger she is able to show Will that she sees him and demonstrate how much she cares for him. This demonstration of love allows Will to feel comfortable enough to share the truth of his anger with her and begin the healing process. Will is then empowered to share with Gideon who he finds to be similar to himself. Will never felt like anyone understood him. Now, Will sees that Gideon understands him and believes he is good person contrary to what Will believes. Will comes to realize that maybe he is a good person and that holding onto his anger is what makes him hurt people. Thus, he confronts his anger with Maura and shares his truth with her. Because Will discovers how to share his honest feelings, he can begin to heal and pursue happiness.