Analysis of Me Before You: Chp. 4

cripplebingo

[Image description: A bingo card entitled “Cripple Trope Bingo” with boxes filled with the following from the top left corner to right and then down each row: “Dumped after disability”, “Disability as excuse for jerkassery”, “ablesplaining”, “Caregiver uncomfortable with tasks”, Free space, “Disability is miserable with no regard of ableism”, “ableist speculation”, “Disabled person pushes away friends because of shame”, and finally “The disabled don’t have sex”.]

Moyes was trying very hard to fill out her “Cripple Trope” bingo card with this chapter. I want to say it’s impossible that she could jampack another chapter with so many clichés, but I may be surprised.

This review is very long. It’s over 2,700 words because Chapter Four was long with a lot to unpack.

Again, if you’re new please check out the intro and check out the tag for earlier installments.

Trigger warning: towards the end of this review (it’s marked there too) there is a very upsetting conversation about wishing to die over being disabled.

Chapter Four starts off with a description of Lou and Will falling into a routine as two weeks have passed since the last chapter. Except even after all this time Lou is still an ableist asshat.

This was the hardest part of the day; it seemed wrong, somehow, spoon-feeding a grown man…

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[Image description: Gif of Yzma of The Emperor’s New Groove rubbing her temples.]

If you’re uncomfortable with the job you really shouldn’t be doing it. With Will it’s more understandable as he’s gone from full independence to nearly full dependence. You however Lou are supposed to be a professional and not adding to someone’s shame and discomfort.

Check that one off the card.

Will spends most of his days watching movies apparently. His father will actually come and sit with him to watch one or two at the end of the day. An obvious good sign and healthy interaction. His mother however will try to prompt him to do things only to be shut down. When she doesn’t receive the response she wants, she leaves. A good sign she’s uncomfortable interacting with Will as he is.

I’m sorry but Mrs. Traynor apparently exists in some fantasy world where a friend, or love, fixes all. Which is hypocritical given her own reluctance to interact with her own son and show him love. Why does the thought of a psychologist never cross anyone’s mind? This is an incredibly unhealthy situation all around and I am honestly not surprised it ends in suicide.

…a never-ending litany of indignities and health problems, of risks and discomforts, I decided that if I were Will, I would probably be pretty miserable too.

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[Image description: Gif of Severus Snape of Harry Potter sneering.]

This is just like the perfect summation of ableism in one sentence. Yes being chronically ill sucks. I live every day with unimaginable pain and have even gone to the ER for that pain. I have nausea, lack of energy, and general malaise. I can indeed be pretty fucking miserable from my symptoms. Nevertheless I could cope with my symptoms a great deal better without pity and ablesplaining.

Lou’s above sentiment echoes that of a girl (I will call her such as she couldn’t have been older than nineteen) who once told me I was “lucky” for having the accommodation of a padded seat in class due to my inability to sit in a plastic seat without extreme pain. As I have pain every day I was suffering from it at the very moment she told me this. It took all my willpower to not tell her to fuck off as she had no idea what I was really going through. That same sort of obliviousness is exhibited in Lou.

The idea that the sole reason a disabled person is miserable is their symptoms, not ableism aggravating it. Will can detect your discomfort in spoon-feeding him Lou, and that does not help his position one bit. We don’t want people praying for us. We want you to fucking campaign for disabled rights. So our quality of life improves. We don’t want your fucking pity. We want you to treat us with respect and not comment on our accommodations. Forcing me to speak about my pain forces me to concentrate on it. I can ignore it a great deal easier if the conversation is about anything else.

Treating the disabled as miserable, pitiful children is as helpful as handing us a handful of shit.

Check the “Disabled are miserable with no regard of ableism” box off.

The meat of the chapter finally comes five pages in after Lou reminisces about her old job. Mrs. Traynor announces that a couple of Will’s friends are visiting and is obviously very nervous. Of course the astute reader already knows what’s coming because it’s painfully obvious. There has to be a reason “Lissa” was mentioned in the superfluous prologue.  To make Lou look better of course.

Check off your “Dumped after being disabled” box now. We just need “ableist speculation” and we’ll have a bingo! Don’t worry, it’s coming!

giphy (1)

[Image description: Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development rolling her eyes.]

Thanks Lucille.

I honestly hate the trope of the shallow ex in order to make the love interest look better. In this case we have Lissa for Will and Patrick for Lou. Moyes seriously used the same plot point twice. That is some lazy writing right there. These characters exist for no other reason than being jerkfaces.

And I swear to god Lou describes only Lissa and not “Rupert” the male friend at all. Just a tiny bit sexist there Moyes.

Q0GyV_s-200x150

[Image description: Professor McGonagall of Harry Potter shaking her head.]

And it goes on for two paragraphs. Holy shit was the editor asleep? Moyes just keeps hammering on us Lissa is the total opposite of Lou, the quirky poor girl who is still attractive enough to be a personal trainer if she did a few laps every morning. Lissa however is a “macchiato” sort of person (yes Lou describes her this way) and is just rich, rich, rich!

…pale caramel skin…

What in the hell does “pale caramel” mean? What color is that exactly? Whatever it is you should have used that instead. Are you trying to say she has a slight tan?

She looked like a human racehorse.

Um…horse-faced women are generally not considered attractive Lou. This is as bad as the “pale caramel skin” description.

Everything about her smelled of money, of entitlement, and a life lived through the pages of a glossy magazine.

I really hate the “rich bitch” trope, it’s sexist as fuck.

annoyed_finger_tapping_Jayne

[Image description: Jayne of Firefly with his arms folded and tapping one set of fingers against his arm.]

Lou realizes Lissa is the woman in the skiing photograph.

what-a-twist-o

[Image description: Gif of a person speaking in an outdoor setting. They are looking towards the camera. The gif is subtitled: “What a twist!”]

Wow Moyes I never saw that one coming! Though if you had left out that needless prologue you may have been able to create some suspense (though not really to any veteran of the “dumped after being disabled” trope) but you just had to ham-fistedly hammer in Will is a former “master of the universe”.

RvjigW

[Image description: Gif of He-man singing against a rainbow background and then a full body shot of him dancing from the “Four Non-Blondes” video-meme.]

I really appreciate it Moyes if you would stop hitting your audience over the head with your sexism and ableism. Have some god damned faith in your readers.

Lissa is “uncomfortable” around Will but not like Lou who cringes at performing the basic tasks of her job. Lissa, Rupert, and Will make small talk. Will asks Lou to get firewood because she’s probably staring open-mouthed at the “human racehorse”. So we get a few paragraphs of Lou farting around outside. Of course she comes back in just in time to hear the big reveal.

…but, well, here’s the thing. Rupert and I are getting married.

what-a-twist-o

[Image description: Gif of a person speaking in an outdoor setting. They are looking towards the camera. The gif is subtitled: “What a twist!”]

Yeah never saw that one coming. It was like a huge freight train speeding at me at sixty miles per hour.

Will is coldly polite about this news. I guess he just takes his frustrations out on his mother and Lou.

Go ahead and check off that “Disability as an excuse for jerkassery” as it applies to Will just in general.

Please don’t be like this. This is so awful. I have absolutely dreaded telling you. We both have.

Of course Lissa makes this all about her and her feelings. Unlike Lou who will wait until the end of the chapter to do the same exact thing.

Anyway after some more awkward and strained conversation Lissa and Rupert finally prepare to leave. Lissa asks Lou for the bathroom to touch up her make-up as she’s started crying. She helpfully gives more insight into her and Will’s relationship by feeling an inexplicable compulsion to confess to Lou. Someone she has never even spoken to before.

I guess we really needed to check off that “Disabled person pushes away friends because of shame” box.

 “I know what you’re thinking.” She said, after a pause. “But I did try. I really tried. For months. And he just pushed me away.” Her jaw was rigid, her expression oddly furious. “He actually didn’t want me here. He made that very clear.”

Thanks for the contrivance Lissa. You did very well in your role of cardboard cut-out. I suppose we’ll never see you again so we’ll never know why in the hell you apparently didn’t suggest therapy for Will either. I would guess your shallowness just like his mother but then again Lou also apparently sees no reason for psych help either.

I hate everyone in this book.

Because it’s too much to ask people be depicted in a loving and healthy relationship after one partner is disabled. We can’t have a love story where two people support each other and learn together how to adapt to disability. We can’t have a relationship that mirrors my own.

My spouse didn’t abandon me when I became ill and lost my job. He supports my choice to go into therapy and has even bought me disability aids as presents because he understands my limitations. My wedding pictures have my cane in them. Yes it’s hard sometimes, especially as we have able people congratulating us for staying together (Not kidding. We had someone at Costco come straight up to us and shook my spouse’s hand for staying with me.) But I guess when the expectation is abandonment it seems extraordinary not everyone is a self-absorbed ableist asshat.

After Lissa and Rupert leave Lou checks in on Will. Only to find he’s left the parlor. There’s a sound of smashing coming from his room. Lou finds he has gotten ahold of a walking stick (not sure why he has one as a quadriplegic) and smashed all the pictures in his room. He has a stare down with Lou. For once she actually reacts in a healthy way by joking about it and then cleaning up the mess. Just keep this in mind for later in the chapter. It will be completely reversed.

So it’s Patrick’s turn to be a piece of ableist shit. As apparently the only way Moyes knows how to show two people are meant for each other is to compare how obnoxious their past love interests are to their current ones. Though in both cases the current love interest is so like the former one it’s more like a pattern of poor choices in lovers.

Lou and Patrick are at a pub hanging out with some of Patrick’s friends. They’re all as obnoxiously health-obsessed as Patrick of course and are talking about competing in a triathlon. Lou feels out of place because she’s the every girl and orders chips (French fries for us Americans) instead of salad. Though of course it’s not like she’s fat or anything. She can eat what she wants and still have the potential to be a personal trainer.

giphy (1)

[Image description: Lucille Bluth of Arrested Development rolling her eyes.]

Lucille knows what’s up.

So of course the conversation turns to Will and of course Patrick has nothing nice to say. Because Lou puts no thought into who would be the father of her children apparently.

And I am putting a trigger warning on Patrick’s little speech here as it really is upsetting. If you’re triggered by mentions of not wanting to live because of disability, please skip the quote below.

”No I wouldn’t. I wouldn’t be anything like the same person at all.” He wrinkled his nose. “I wouldn’t want to live. Relying on other people for every little thing. Having strangers wipe your arse—Jesus. Think of all the little things you couldn’t do…” He shook his head. “No more running, no more cycling.” He looked at me as if it had just occurred to him. “No more sex.”

Disgust-Dislike-Ew-Eww-No-No-Way-Smh-Tim-And-Eric-GIF

[Image description: Tim of the Tim and Eric Show making a disgusted expression including baring his teeth and shaking his head.]

Fuck, Moyes. You couldn’t have reigned yourself in a little? This would be excusable except the ending of the book proves Patrick’s every point.  Will obviously suffers from severe internalized ableism and has no outlet whatsoever for his feelings. The above is exactly what leads to his suicide combined with the incredibly unhealthy environment he’s in. And I am supposed to believe this is a “neutral” work on assisted suicide and is about “choice”?

Fuck. You.

We then get a few paragraphs of speculating how disabled sex works. Lou actually says quadriplegics could have sex. Let’s tuck that away for later. But god damn why are able people so fascinated with how disabled sex works? It’s none of your fucking business! I am not even going to write down some of the quotes in this because I don’t want to trigger someone. Nevertheless our sex lives are not jokes nor something for you to gawk at. And apparently the author of this book can have characters making ableist, hurtful speculations on disabled sex yet can’t bring herself to show it.

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[Image description: Gif of a fireball explosion because burn it all down.]

You are such a fucking hypocrite Moyes.

And by the way, we have bingo for “ableist speculation” along with “the disabled don’t have sex”.

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[Image description: A person clapping in a dim theater. The image is in black and white.]

The most hollow victory in the world.

Oh and Lou finally begins to feel a pang of consciousness at all of this cruelty. It took her this long to feel a human emotion in regards to Will that isn’t strictly pity. Though she certainly doesn’t call out Patrick or his asshat friends.

 I had started to feel a little guilty about the way we were discussing my employer. Especially as I realized he probably endured it all the time.

Okay, good. Good. A “little guilty” isn’t the best response after her boyfriend spews condescending ableist shit but at least she has a conscience.

It was almost impossible to not speculate about the more intimate aspects of his life.

…Or never mind she’s still as much an ableist asshat as before.

So this journey into hell ends with the aftermath of Will’s tantrum the next day. Nathan warns Lou Will is “having a bad day”. To be fair while sulking isn’t the most mature reaction to finding out your former girlfriend and friend hooked up, it’s to be expected that he’s upset. Especially as he has no healthy outlet to vent his feelings.

So Lou has the brilliant idea of repairing the frames and putting them back up. Because it would be obvious to anyone else that he finds these memories upsetting. But because we need more contrived conflict Lou ignores whatever empathy she may have and restores the pictures and frames.

”You thought you knew best. Everyone thinks they know what I need…I don’t want to have those bloody pictures staring at me every time I’m stuck in bed…”

In this case I actually side with Will. Now this isn’t a healthy way to deal with his internalized ableism but as I have pointed out numerous times he has no healthy outlets. He doesn’t want to look at the pictures. Lou thought she knew better. Will is sick of this ableist attitude of disregarding his feelings. Will is expressing himself clearly with a genuine concern.

And Lou responds with:

“You don’t have to behave like an arse.”

YG-xnJ

[Image description: Jim Carrey in Liar Liar slamming his head down onto a desk while in court.]

So instead of acknowledging Will’s feelings and possibly opening up a new avenue in their relationship Lou responds just like Lissa did and instead makes the encounter about her feelings over his. This is an incredibly condescending attitude and one sure to roadblock in any real life exchange. Disabled people get very tired very quickly of having to soothe the hurt feelings of able people. Able people act surprised and hurt over situations they create with callous feelings towards the disabled. Their feelings matter more than the concerns of the disabled person.

We have “ablesplaining” folks! Go ahead and check off that last box!

Of course as Moyes is an ableist author instead of Lou being met with more of the cold shoulder she would rightfully deserve after this encounter Will stays to hear Lou confess she doesn’t want to be there and needs the money. Somehow instead of enraging Will that she makes the situation all about her as Lissa did it seems to calm him. He simply asks the pictures be put away and leaves. He amazingly has a much more mature response than Lou in this situation.

This is all an ableist fantasy. That a disabled person would have their mind changed by the hurt feelings of an able person and recognize, somehow, the able person is in an even worse position. Moyes has found out herself this is not often the case in real life.

So this is where the chapter ends. With no hope at all this will come to any realistic or hopeful end.

 

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