Landon and Jamie begin to date. On New Year's Eve, he takes her to a fancy restaurant on the advice of his mother. He first receives Reverend Sullivan's blessing, however, and when he does, Landon notices that Reverend Sullivan cries as Landon leaves his office. Landon also notices that Jamie appears more fatigued than she used to.
The two begin to incorporate each other into their lives. Jamie spends time on the river, at the beach, and at Cecil's Diner — Landon's hangouts — and Landon visits the orphanage. Landon draws the line, however, at attending Bible study with Jamie so as not to accentuate his lack of Biblical knowledge.
One day, near the end of the holiday school break, Landon notices a large bruise below Jamie's ring finger. After hugging her, he also notes that she is thinner than even two weeks before.
After Landon tells Jamie for the first time that he loves her, she cries and asks him not to say that. She then gives Landon the stunning news that she is dying.
The purpose of this chapter is to put the final pieces in place for Jamie's horrible news. Throughout the novel, Sparks has been laying clues about Jamie's condition — that Jamie's major goal in life is to get married; that she doesn't plan to attend college; that she wanted this particular Christmas to be extra-special; that she is questioning the purpose of life. This chapter lays the final groundwork: Reverend Sullivan sobs at his desk about Jamie, and Jamie herself clearly isn't well, losing weight, bruising easily, and tiring easily.
One scene in this chapter, however, goes beyond setting up Jamie's devastating news, and that is the passage in which Jamie asks Landon how the other kids feel about her. Landon tries to protect her feelings, of course, but she insists on his honesty, in this moment and in the future. Landon is forced to answer honestly that other students think Jamie strange.
This scene shows a side to Jamie's character that has not been presented before in the novel. The Jamie the reader experiences has not appeared to care — indeed, has barely even noticed — when other students shun her or are cruel to her. She has given the impression of being oblivious to their teasing, and when she has noticed it, she brushes it off with ease. But in this scene, Jamie is clearly hurt and confused by it all. She is confounded by the other students, not understanding why they would treat her as they have. "'But why, exactly?" she asks. "Is it because of my father? Or is it because I try to be nice to people?'" Landon cannot answer that question. Throughout his life he, too, thought she was strange and treated her poorly as a result. But although he felt that way only a month before, he now cannot understand the behavior of other students either. Both Landon and Jamie now share the same value system — that doing good is infinitely more important than being popular — and they have trouble understanding why others don't share that same view. "'You're everything that I'd like to be,'" Landon tells Jamie. "'If people don't like you, or they think you're strange, then that's their problem.'"
nor'easter a heavy storm that blows in from the northeast.