About the Book

Book Protagonist: Tessa Young
Publication Date: 2013
Genre: Romance

Themes and Analysis


By Anna Todd

The main ideology and message behind 'After' is one filled with love, hate, romance, the terrors of the past, and betrayal. 'After' shows it all, how we feel when we do not want to let go because of love.

After’ is a romance novel that shows the duality in hate romance and the terrible choices one makes when clouded by emotions.

After Themes and Analysis đź“– 1

After‘ Themes


Love is the primary theme of ‘After.’ Though ‘After’ features other major themes, love stands out as the leading theme. ‘After’ equitably describes how one feels and the choices one makes when in love, be it good or bad. Throughout the novel, love stands out as one of the most important emotions, from the characters Hardin and Tessa’s intense love to the love between Landon and Dakota, the love and friendship between Landon and Tessa, the love between Ken and Karen, and even the love between Tessa and Noah. The birth of some of the primary themes in ‘After’ came from the feeling of love.


Betrayal is one of the primary themes in ‘After.’ Because Tessa falls so deeply in love with Hardin, she surrenders her all to him and blocks out everyone and anyone who tries to hinder her feelings for him. Tessa loved Hardin with all she had, but in the end, all that crashed when she found out about the bet that had been made on her. Hardin betrayed Tessa in every single way she could have imagined and left her broken, torn, and in shambles.

Though Tessa had hints along the line due to Hardin’s weird behavior around his friends, she still chose to ignore it all, and in the end, it only added to her pain. Hardin betraying Tessa left her with almost nothing to look back to because her mother cut her off, and the people she thought should have been her friends were the opposite. The feeling of betrayal is strongly emphasized by the ending of the ‘After.’

Hate and Burning Desire

Hate and burning desire is also a primary theme of ‘After.’ In the book, Tessa finds herself having an intense attraction to the one person she dislikes, Hardin. Though he is rude, arrogant, and insensitive, she could not help but fall for him. The chemistry that existed between them made her want to explore her desires with him. Though she hated him, she could not ignore the fact that she had an intense desire for him. This feeling leads Tessa to explore the world of romance as she had never done in her entire life.


Throughout the book, Tessa struggles for one thing; her freedom. Having felt like she had been caged for her entire life, Tessa decided to let it all go and strive for her release. Tessa struggled for her freedom from a mother who wanted her life to go according to a plan and not what Tessa herself wanted. Though her decision to be free led to her mother cutting her off. Tessa found the freedom she had always wanted with Hardin, even though it lasted for a short time.

The Influence of Friends

‘After’ projects just to what extent friends influence each other. ‘After’ is filled with many scenes where the influence of friends led the way, from Tessa getting drunk for the first time to her making Hardin meet his estranged father. The book portrays just how negatively or positively the influence of friends affects us. Also, Tessa was so much influenced by Hardin that everything in her life began to center around what he thought, desired, and felt about her.

Holding On To The Past

‘After’ showed just how much holding on to the past affects one so much. In ‘After,’ Hardin hated his father for what happened to his mother. He allowed that hatred to fuel the negative attitude he began to accumulate. Hardin was tormented and haunted by his past, the night his entire world came crashing down. Hardin could never forgive his father, and he could never also never forgive himself. Holding on to his hatred changed him in many ways and affected his sleep because he always had nightmares.

Analysis of Key Moments in ‘After’

  1. Tessa gains admission into the same school her mother dropped out from when she was younger.
  2. Tessa reaches her college, Washington Central University, with her mom, Carol, and high school boyfriend, Noah.
  3. Tessa, Noah, and her mom meet Tessa’s roommate, Steph Jones. Carol immediately tells her daughter she will get her a new room due to the alternative and weird lifestyle her roommate led. Tessa disagrees with her mother’s demands.
  4. Tessa meets Hardin alone in her room. She immediately dislikes him because of the rude comments he makes about her.
  5. Tessa meets Landon Gibson on her first day of class, and they become friends.
  6. Landon tells Tessa he and Hardin are soon-to-be stepbrothers.
  7. Tessa is invited to a party by Steph, and she agrees.
  8. Tessa plays a game of truth or dares at the party, where she reveals she is a virgin. She refuses to kiss Hardin when dared to do so. She leaves, but Hardin goes after her. They share an intense moment which Hardin shrugs off as nothing.
  9. Hardin and Tessa go to a stream alone. There Hardin makes Tessa have her first orgasm. He makes it clear to Tessa that they were not dating, leaving her heartbroken.
  10. Tessa invites Noah to spend the night. They are interrupted by Landon, who calls asking for help with Hardin. Tessa abandons Noah for Hardin.
  11. Hardin and Tessa fight over her, not revealing to Noah the relationship they had together.
  12. Tessa meets Hardin’s father, Ken Scott, who, to her surprise, is the chancellor of WCU. Ken invites Tessa to his house for the evening.
  13. Hardin and Ken fight, making Hardin storm out of the house with Tessa following him. Tessa consoles Hardin and decides to stay with him for the night.
  14. Tessa experiences the intense nightmare Hardin has.
  15. The next morning, Hardin takes Tessa back to her dorm, where they find Noah waiting. After a ruckus, Tessa tells Noah to leave; they finally break up.
  16. Tessa gets an internship at Vance publishing with the help of Ken, who, in exchange, request she convince Hardin to come with her.
  17. Though Hardin is happy for her, he abandons Tessa for his friends. Tessa finds Molly sitting on Hardin’s lap when she looks for him. She gets angry and kisses Zed. Hardin pays the favor and dares Molly to do the same to him, making Tessa leave.
  18. Hardin chases after Tessa and publicly declares his love for her. Tessa rejects him making Hardin recount his statement and leaving Tessa heartbroken.
  19. Tessa decides to go out with Zed, though kissing him made her realize she truly loved Hardin.
  20. Tessa runs back to Hardin and confesses her love for him. They go back to her dorm to find her mother, Carol, waiting. She gives Tessa an option to go back to Noah or be cut off; Tessa chooses the latter.
  21. Tessa loses her virginity to Hardin.
  22. Tessa agrees to move into an apartment with Hardin.
  23. On the way to Ken’s wedding, Tessa notices how battered Zed was. On asking, she finds out it was Hardin’s doing. She confronts Hardin only to find out the truth about a bet placed on her.
  24. Tessa leaves heartbroken, with Hardin running after her and drove off with Zed. She then asks Zed for the bet details.

Style, Tone, and Figurative Language in ‘After’

Throughout the entire book, Anna Todd writes about Tessa’s travails in a detached tone. With the use of short conversations and the entirety of the characters’ actions and dialogues referencing Tessa, the view used is the singular person’s. All the action, drama, and emotionality are directly observed by Tessa alone, though some chapters also employed Hardin’s view.

There is minute complexity in dialogue throughout the book. All sentences were simple and straight to the point.

For the tone, there were many attributions to anger, love, and pain. After’ was a rollercoaster of emotions, from the feeling of a burning desire to cold indifference, the nasty feeling of hate, and the tormentable feeling of guilt and sadness.

Analysis of Symbols in ‘After’


After is one of the predominant and spot-on symbols of the book ‘After.’ Just as its name implies, the book does not just converge on an ending as most romance novels do; instead, it just shows how Tessa was after it all happened. There was no way Tessa could escape the inevitable. The book showed Tessa’s after, ending rational enough for the relationship she and Hardin had.


Choice is what defines ‘After.’ Though ‘After’ seemed to follow a predetermined order, each step leading to the ending was all based on the choice each character made. Though the element of free will for the characters in ‘After’ seemed restricted due to clouded judgment and the feeling of love, the choices both Tessa and Hardin made sealed their fate.


What is the main theme in ‘After‘?

The main theme in After is love, as it was experienced by the vast majority of the characters. From Landon and his girlfriend Dakota to Ken and Karen, Noah and Tessa, and finally Tessa and Hardin, love plays a large part throughout the book.

Is betrayal a main theme in ‘After‘?

Yes, in fact, most people will agree betrayal is the major theme of ‘After‘ as the book shows we can’t always trust people just by the way they behave toward us. Tessa experienced the harsh reality of betrayal from people she thought were supposed to be her friends.

Does Tessa get pregnant in ‘After‘?

No, she doesn’t. In the first part of the ‘After’ series, Tessa does not get pregnant for Hardin.

What is the setting of ‘After‘?

Washington Central University, WCU. This is the main setting for the ‘After‘ book, as everything between Tessa and Hardin happens in school.

Why is Tessa’s mother uncaring?

Tessa’s mother, Carol, seems uncaring because she believes in creating a great life for her daughter. Due to her husband abandoning her and her daughter, she made up her mind for her daughter to have the life she never had, even if that life will cost her daughter her happiness.

Joshua Ehiosun
About Joshua Ehiosun
Joshua is an undying lover of literary works. With a keen sense of humor and passion for coining vague ideas into state-of-the-art worded content, he ensures he puts everything he's got into making his work stand out. With his expertise in writing, Joshua works to scrutinize pieces of literature.
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