Will Freeman is the other main character in About a Boy. He is 36 years old and owns a flat in London. He does not need to work – in fact he has never had a job – because his father wrote a Christmas song many years earlier and Will receives royalty payments every month, on which he is able to live very well. Will thinks that he has a fantastic life, because he does what he wants whenever he wants to, and it is true that he has a very expensive lifestyle. However, he is rather selfish and does not see himself as a member of a society in which we all have a duty to help others.
However, it becomes clear to the reader that he is actually quite lonely. Will thinks that it is better to live alone than to be part of a family, and he feels sorry for his friends John and Christine, who have a toddler and a new baby. Will thinks that their lives are over, and cannot imagine living as they do, with toys and clutter all over the house.
Will is immature and behaves more like a teenager than Marcus does. He buys magazines in order to do the quizzes, and makes sure that he is up-to-date with the latest music and singers. He considers himself to be very ‘cool’, but is unable to see that other people of his age actually pity him because his existence seems pointless.
He is afraid to commit to a relationship. Whenever a woman seems to be growing too fond of Will, he ends the relationship. If the woman happens to mention that she would like to settle down and have children with him, he is terrified.
Will is devious. He does not feel bad about posing as a single parent and pretending to have a child.
Will is, however, a good-hearted person. He helps Marcus a lot when he is being bullied and worrying about his mother, by offering him a place to escape from his problems and by giving him advice. He often gets cross about being put in a position where he has no choice but to help, but nonetheless he does the right thing.
Finally, Will is insecure. It is obvious to the reader by the end of the novel that Will does not engage normally with other people because he is afraid of being rejected.
Will does not want to get involved in other people’s problems.
You needed money, sure - the only reason for having children, as far as Will could see, was so they could look after you when you were old and useless and skint – but he had money, which meant that he could avoid the clutter and the toilet-paper throws and the pathetic need to convince friends that they should be as miserable as you are.
Will thinks that he is not like most other people because he is independently wealthy and needs nothing from anybody. He thinks he can exist in a vacuum and remain untouched by the problems of everyday life. As the novel progresses, it becomes evident that Will actually enjoys interacting with other people, even when he becomes involved in all their messy problems.
Will thinks about having to spend Christmas alone.
… it struck him that how you spent Christmas was a message to the world about where you were at in life, some indication of how deep a hole you had managed to burrow for yourself…
What Marcus was saying, in his artful, skewed way, was that he didn’t want Will to be alone on Christmas Day.
Will prides himself on being able to live without other people, but at times like Christmas he becomes aware that everybody else will be with families and friends, even if they do not particularly like those people. When even Marcus seems to pity him, Will feels very depressed.
Will reads magazines aimed at young men.
He was, according to the questionnaire, sub-zero! He was dry ice! He was Frosty the Snowman! He would die of hypothermia!
Will is like a teenager in the way he completes questionnaires in magazines and actually takes the results seriously. As a man approaching 40, he should really be dismissing these quizzes as nonsense. It makes the reader feel that he is a likeable idiot with too much time on his hands.