Will (continued)

Afraid to commit

How is Will like this?

Will’s relationships never last long because he refuses to contemplate a future with any of the women.

Evidence

If she but knew it, he was exactly right; if there was a man better equipped for the meaningless fling, he wouldn’t like to meet him. I’ve been putting this on! He wanted to tell her. I’m horrible! I’m much shallower than this, honest!

Analysis

Will hides behind a charming front. He behaves as if the woman he is currently seeing is the most important thing in the world to him, but he has no intention of staying with her for the long term. Here, he listens to Suzie telling him that she wishes that their relationship could carry on, but that he is too nice for her in her current state of mind, because he seems serious about their future together.

Devious

How is Will like this?

Will poses as a single father so that he can meet women.

Evidence

– what more could a man want? Single mothers – bright, attractive women, thousands of them, all over London – were the best invention Will had ever heard of. His career as a serial nice guy had begun.

“… now he had found the ideal solution to this unexpected dearth of prey. He had invented a two-year-old son called Ned and had joined a single parents’ group.”

Analysis

When Angie finishes with Will, saying that it is not him, it is her, he considers it the best relationship break-up he has ever experienced. At that moment he decides to date single mothers exclusively.

Will feels no guilt for planning to tell lies about his situation. This indicates that, at the beginning of the novel, he does not care about anybody else’s feelings. It also shows that he does not spend much time worrying about the possible consequences of being found out.

Good-hearted

How is Will like this?

Will is very kind to Marcus and Fiona.

Evidence

Before, he thought that going out with a mother was a heavy number; how much heavier would it be going out with a suicidal mother? But he didn’t want to let it drop. He still had this sense that Fiona and Marcus could replace soup kitchens and media Guardian jobs, possibly for ever.

I could leave him outside to take his chances, but I’ve been letting him in for his own safety.

Analysis

Even though Will is not attracted to Fiona, he makes a real effort to treat her and Marcus to a meal in a nice restaurant. He thinks of them as the latest in his line of do-good projects.

Insecure

How is Will like this?

Will is scared that Rachel will leave him.

Evidence

Wanting Rachel so much still frightened Will […] She might meet someone else […] She might die, suddenly, without warning, in a car crash …

Analysis

It becomes clear that the reason that Will has never been able to commit himself to anybody else in the past is because he is so afraid of being abandoned by them somehow. This is very similar to Marcus’ terror of being left alone if his mother dies.

Analysing the evidence

Will looked at this strange little group, his gang for the day, and tried to make some sense of it. All these ripples and connections! He couldn’t get his head round them … Will couldn’t recall ever having been caught up in this sort of messy, sprawling, chaotic web before; it was almost as if he had been given a glimpse of what it was like to be human. It wasn’t too bad, really; he wouldn’t even mind being human on a full-time basis.

Question

What does this extract tell us about Will’s changed opinions of other people?

At the start of the novel, Will was extremely reluctant to become involved with other people and their messy problems. He thought that if he kept himself to himself, he would never suffer. Now that he is in a happy relationship with Rachel, and is friendly with Marcus and Fiona, he realises that being entangled in people’s lives is a wonderful thing. It is what makes human beings who they are. Everybody needs other people to call on if they are in trouble – in fact it is the problems themselves which make people connect the most. Will has changed a great deal by this point in the novel. He knows that being alone is abnormal, and that people cannot cushion themselves against bad things happening. They just need friends.