Summary and Analysis
Chapter 16 - Steve
Although Steve recognizes that something is bothering Ronnie when she comes in, he decides to give her space. Jonah tells Steve Will's name, and Steve admonishes Jonah for listening to a private conversation. When Jonah asks how Steve expects to keep track of Ronnie if he does not read her texts, Steve suggests talking as an alternative.
The chapter then flashes back to when Steve was 12, when the piano was his obsession and Pastor Harris basically his only friend. Even though Steve was winning competitions, his father never attended any and his mother only attended the first one.
Pastor Harris taught Steve that God is a friend and that one feels God's presence in one's heart. Returning to the present, Steve takes a moment to watch his children while they are sleeping and remembers how as a teacher he tried to listen to his students when they had difficulties. He loved helping students to reach their own conclusions about their difficulties. Steve concludes that he is alone — and always will be alone — in this world.
The next morning, Steve realizes that he misses playing the piano and without music he feels aimless and adrift. To tide himself over until the new church piano arrives at the end of July, Steve imagines that the kitchen table is a keyboard. After composing for a bit, Steve takes a walk on the beach. He wants an obvious sign of God's presence in the world — like a burning bush — but does not find one.
Steve's character development is at the forefront of this chapter. His views on parenting, which center on talking and communication, and his relaxed attitude enable him to allow Ronnie to grow up a bit more easily than her mother does. This is a direct result of his own upbringing — he does not want his children to be parented like he was.
It is significant that sometimes Steve has the characteristics of God the Father, and other times he has the characteristics of an Everyman. This seems to suggest the every person has a god-like quality within them.
Steve misses playing piano, but that he is giving up something so important to him shows his willingness to make sacrifices for his daughter. The chapter is full of references to Steve's medical condition, yet his physical comfort is not Steve's priority this summer: He wants to make this time about his children, and he especially wants Ronnie to have a great summer.
Although Steve may be unhappy with his past and feeling lonely, the end of the chapter indicates that Steve will eventually feel a sense of oneness. Steve longs to know God, and he is confident that he will find peace because he sees now that music is not the most important thing in his life. Even though he made some bad decisions in the past, he now seems to be on the right path to finding a way to fill the emptiness in his life.
Beethoven German composer of the early 1800s
Eroica the popular title of Beethoven's third symphony
Concerto a composition for one or more principal instruments with orchestral accompaniment
Is it easy to model the love and trust you have for your teenagers, even if they act as if they do not want or even deserve it? Is it easier to parent a 10 year old rather than a 17 year old?
Many, if not most, teenagers act out toward their parents because they can. Because they know, deep down, that their parents will continue to love them, no matter how awful they might sometimes act. More than that, acting out is a normal part of development. Teenagers are at that point in life where they're not children, but they're not adults either. They're finding out who they are. It's a challenging time for everyone involved. I wouldn't say, however, that it's easier to raise a 10 year old than a teenager. Both periods have their joys and challenges. They're simply different.