All the Bright Places | Study Guide

Jennifer Niven

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All the Bright Places | Part 1, Chapters 21–23 | Summary



Part 1, Chapter 21: FINCH Day 22 and I'm still here

Finch is at his father's house, where he can tell, "something's wrong." At dinnertime, Finch volunteers to go fetch his father, who is in the basement watching television and drinking. Finch speaks to him boldly, and then Mr. Finch is "off the couch and lunging" for Finch. He "slams [Finch] into the wall." Finch goes upstairs, and shortly after his father joins them, pretending nothing happened.

On the way home, Kate Finch tells her brother, "He could have put you in the hospital." Finch leaves after telling his mother he loves her, but he sits in the garage briefly, thinking about car exhaust suicide. After a few minutes, he thinks instead of a "body of water and [him] on [his] back floating." He imagines that it will look like he's sleeping when they find his body.

Finch thinks about going to French Lick (which was previously called Salt Spring) where he drank the supposedly healing waters. He waited for it to "fix the dark, slow churning of [his] mind." At the time he was told about a place called Mudlavia. Tonight, he goes there and goes into the stream to "let the water cover" him.

When he gets back home, he sees Kate, and they talk about Violet and about whether Josh Raymond is actually their half brother instead of their stepbrother. Kate tells Finch, "Just be careful with that heart of yours." Then Finch visits his younger sister in her bedroom. Decca Finch is cutting up books. She explains that they are cutting out the "mean parts and the bad words."

Finch takes a very hot bath, writes "Just be careful" on the steamy mirror, and then dresses. He studies the cut-up books, cuts out some of the "best words," and puts them on his wall.

Part 1, Chapter 22: VIOLET 138 days to go

On Sunday night, Violet reads the notebook she and Finch are using for their project. She writes about visiting Bookmarks and the Purina Tower. Then she clears her bulletin board and starts to tack up "brightly colored Post-its" with words and "sentences that may or may not become story ideas." Afterward she takes a picture and sends it to Finch. He does not reply by the time she goes to bed.

Part 1, Chapter 23: FINCH Day 23, 24, 25 ...

Finch wakes up and feels like the prior night "is like a puzzle" and "all the pieces are scattered everywhere and some are missing." He begins to clean, organize, and paint his room. He covers the red walls with blue, but the red "seeps right through, like the walls are bleeding." He moves the bed into the middle of the room, finds an "old blue comforter," and sleeps. The next day, he paints the walls again, but he does not paint the ceiling. Eventually he messages Violet to say, "You are all the colors in one, at full brightness."


The abusive relationship, in the present, between Mr. Finch and his son is not expanded to include any of the other children, the ex-wife (Finch's mother), or the new wife (Rosemarie). The lack of an explicit statement on their safety does not indicate clearly that only Finch is subject to his father's outbursts. However, based on the reactions of other characters, this does appear to be the case. When Kate tells Finch "he could've put you in the hospital," there is a possibility that he is the sole receiver of Mr. Finch's abuse. Despite this, Finch volunteers to go get his father at dinnertime, and he speaks to him boldly. The result—that Mr. Finch is "off the couch and lunging" for Finch—is not surprising.

Patients with bipolar disorder are not inherently violent. However, some sufferers are prone to violent outbursts. People in the manic phase are more likely to become violent with others, while those who are depressed are more likely to turn the violence toward themselves. The family does not react to the outburst of violence that they undoubtedly hear happening in the basement despite the fact that slamming Finch into the wall would make a significant noise.

Here, too, is another sign that the adults who ought to be there in order to help Finch are not. His father, as the reader will continue to see, is likely also struggling with undiagnosed bipolar disorder. His mother undoubtedly knows Finch has suffered at his father's hands, and she is well aware Finch has the same cyclical moods his father has. Yet she does not take him to a therapist or physician.

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