Summary and Analysis
Landon discusses his college options. His father wants him to attend an Ivy League university, but Landon hopes only that his grades are high enough for him to be accepted at the University of North Carolina, where his father attended. Worth Carter devises a scheme to improve Landon's college application: run for student body president. Although reluctant, Landon schemes with his best friend, Eric Hunter, a sports standout, to secure the athletes' vote for Landon. Thus Landon wins the election.
One task that falls to Landon in his new position is that he must decorate for, attend, and clean up after the Homecoming Dance. In order to avoid being the only student body president in history to not bring a date to the dance, Landon ponders his options. Still pining for his junior-year girlfriend, Angela Clark, who now dates a 20-year-old mechanic named Lew, Landon discovers that most of the girls he knows already have dates for the dance. Landon's pressure intensifies in light of the fact that a fellow student council member, treasurer Carey Dennison, is also without a date and is likely asking any remaining available girls. Landon comes across Jamie Sullivan's picture in his yearbook, and although he is initially repulsed by the idea of asking her to the dance, he realizes she may be his only option and that, to stave off Dennison, Landon must act quickly. He runs to Jamie's house and nervously asks her to be his date. She is surprised, but she agrees, with one caveat: Landon must promise not to fall in love with her.
Chapter 2 gives readers a closer look at Landon's relationship with his father. Worth Carter grew up in Beaufort and attended the University of North Carolina (UNC), but Worth wants more for his son, beginning with an Ivy League education. Landon is savvy enough to realize he hasn't worked hard enough in school to gain admittance to an Ivy League college (this in contrast to Jamie, who will likely be valedictorian), so his hopes center on being admitted to UNC. To improve Landon's chances of being accepted to a top-tier school, Worth Carter devises a plan for Landon, saying, "I think you should run for student body president." Yet what he means is, "You will run," not "I think you should run." Landon understands this subtly; he is intimidated by his father, a man who wears a suit everywhere he goes. Although Landon resents his father's infrequent appearances and subsequent intrusions into Landon's life, Landon acquiesces, saying, "My father's word was law."
Note the implications of Landon's father's name: Worth. Landon's father is a wealthy political leader, who has achieved both fortune and fame, and who is considered of worth or value in the Carter family. Contrast this idea with Jamie's value system, in which money and fame have little meaning, but charity and selflessness do.
This chapter further highlights Landon's immaturity: In naming his three greatest skills, Landon cites an ability to tie knots, walk across hot asphalt, and balance a pencil on his finger — party tricks that only a boy considers his most important skill set. Landon's voice remains young, but near the end of the chapter, Landon demonstrates his first regret, in a passage that has all the earmarks of true self-awareness. "All of a sudden," Landon says, "I regretted the way I'd behaved toward her all these years." These few sentences give readers tremendous insight into the transformational maturation awaiting Landon.
In this chapter, Landon also reveals a past relationship with a girl named Angela Clark, and it is his preoccupation with Angela that keeps him from finding a date to the Homecoming Dance in a timely manner. Jamie, a social outcast, is one of the only girls available to ask at this late date and, to Landon, she is the only one marginally attractive enough to even consider asking. Yet he wrestles with the thought of plain, God-obsessed Jamie as his date, and he dreads his friends' reactions. Landon's thoughts along these lines reinforce his own immaturity.
Finally, Landon's struggles, especially as the novel progressed, allowed him to develop a more mature perspective, one in which readers of any age could relate.
Jamie, for her part, responds delightfully to Landon's invitation. Contrary to what readers might expect — that Jamie would be acutely flattered and would consider herself unworthy of a socially outgoing young man like Landon — she is surprised and takes her time answering. Although she finally accepts, she forces Landon to agree to one request: that he not fall in love with her. Jamie therefore takes the reins in this relationship; she never looks back.
Ivy Leagues a group of eight prestigious universities clustered in the Northeast: Brown; Columbia; Cornell; Dartmouth; Harvard; Princeton; the University of Pennsylvania; and Yale. This group is generally referred to as the Ivy League (singular), not Ivy Leagues (plural).
alma mater the college from which a person graduated.
Hoos in Hooville characters in Dr Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas; the characters all have rather long, slouchy bodies and round tummies.
Diner a local eatery and hangout popular in the 1950s and '60s.
hunchback of Notre Dame Victor Hugo's 1831 novel by this name featured a large, hunchbacked, misshapen man who rings the bell in the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
A Walk to Remember would likely have been marketed to young adults, if it had been your first novel, because both of the primary characters are teenagers. Why do you think this novel has such a broad appeal among adult readers?
I suppose the appeal lies in a number of areas: the kindness of Jamie's character, Landon's journey of redemption, the beauty, power and innocence of first love, and the theme of acceptance of God's will. At the same time, it's important to remember that most adult readers were American high school students, and I would suspect that most people could relate fairly well to the story. I assume it brought back more than a few memories for most readers.