An allusion is an indirect reference. Sometimes the reference is to a person; other times it's to the Bible, a historical event, or another literary text. Mythology, the arts, religion, and popular culture are also some of the most common forms of allusions. The purpose of an allusion is to enrich the text in which the allusion is made. Although knowledge of the allusion is not imperative to the understanding of the text, understanding the allusion provides a richer experience for the reader.
In The Last Song, Scott references a number of movie titles in practically every conversation he has. These allusions indicate that he relates to these characters and the plots. His references, like the movies themselves, often contain double entendres and sexual innuendo. Often, his references are to Ronnie.
The cinematic allusions associated with Ronnie are used to demonstrate the depth of her character as well as foreshadow significant events in the plot. The story of Nemo from Finding Nemo is about a child reconnecting with an estranged father, providing readers of The Last Song with clues as to Ronnie and Steve's reconciliation. And The Breakfast Club, a movie about outsiders and misfits who bond during a Saturday detention, provides hints at the restoration of the friendship between Ronnie and Blaze.
In addition to movies, the two novels that Ronnie reads — Anna Karenina and Doctor Zhivago — indicate the important thematic topics of jealousy, faith, family, and relationships. They also explore the relationship between happiness and pain and between loneliness and love, and the importance of individuality. Stylistically, Anna Karenina is a realistic novel that shifts its point of view from the perspective of different characters; the reference to it can also be considered an allusion to the form of The Last Song.
The most significant allusions in The Last Song are Christian in nature. Readers who are unfamiliar with them will only notice Steve reading the Bible and working on a stained-glass window for the church and will easily dismiss these details. But those who have read and studied the Bible will notice the similarities between Steve's love and the love of both God the Father and Jesus Christ. The way Steve and Ronnie turn to the Lord in times of trouble and the ideals of forgiveness permeate the pages of The Last Song, indicating that the characters are learning from one another — and ultimately from God — the best way to live their life here on Earth in order to prepare for the afterlife, for people should desire to know God in both this world and the next.