Summary and Analysis
Excitement about the play builds in the community, especially because the playwright's daughter has the starring role this year. But Landon feels no such excitement because his friends tease him relentlessly over his connection to Jamie.
Landon begins walking Jamie home each night, at her request, because of the late hour at which they leave rehearsals. Landon, with obvious sarcasm, reflects internally on how safe the town is, even at night. During one of their evening walks, Jamie reveals that she doesn't plan to attend college in spite of being one of the best students in the class. She also talks about missing her mother, and Jamie reveals that the Bible she always carries belonged to her mother, who had it with her in the hospital when she died.
One night, Eric and Margaret see the two walking home, and Eric again mocks them under the guise of being sweet and polite. Eric quickly tells everyone at school about the after-rehearsal walks, and Landon finds himself withdrawing from his friends in frustration over their teasing. The night before the play, Landon finally lashes out at Jamie, who is deeply hurt by his outburst.
Chapter 7 marks the point of transition for Landon because, in this pivotal chapter, his frustration gets the best of him. Everything about Jamie annoys Landon now. He fights hard against all that she represents. He refuses to believe he has any feelings for her. And his biting, sarcastic nature takes over.
When Jamie asks Landon to walk her home after play practice, although he privately ridicules her for thinking their small town may be dangerous at night, he does as she wishes so as not to hurt her feelings. Landon is equally annoyed by the play — and, of course, at Jamie for getting him involved in the play — because he is being teased at school about it and also because he has been required to work hard to improve his acting skills. Landon is even a bit annoyed that he has been feeling rather good about himself and the better person he is becoming, thinking, "I could practically imagine the angels in heaven, standing around and staring wistfully down at me with little tears filling the corners of their eyes, talking about how wonderful I was for all my sacrifices."
Perhaps most of all, however, Landon is annoyed that Jamie is much more than he ever thought she was. He has already had to acknowledge that she is becoming more attractive, which surprises and bothers him. But much more than that, Jamie is becoming far more complex and multi-dimensional than he ever allowed himself to believe she was. For years, he believed Jamie to be one person, and now he is discovering layers he didn't know were there. Drawn to the Jamie he now knows, he is annoyed with both her complexity and his attraction, and he tries to deny both.
Examples of Jamie's complexities abound. Landon believes Jamie carried her Bible as a sign of her piety, but he soon discovers she does so to connect to her deceased mother. He never thinks they have anything in common yet fully understands when she says she misses her mother, just as he misses his father. Landon assumes Jamie will attend a Bible college and is surprised to hear her say that she has no plans for college. He believes she thinks only of God and helpless creatures, yet she tells him she would like to sit in a graveyard and simply listen and look. Jamie is far more than she appears.
But as Landon learns more, his resentment and frustration increase. He doesn't want to like Jamie for any number of reasons: His friends tease him about her; she doesn't subscribe to the usual teenage value system and modes of behavior; she's the daughter of a minister; she sees the good in everyone; she believes Landon to be good; she gets him to do things he would never do otherwise; she creates a feeling in Landon that he can — perhaps even should — do more. All this makes Landon deeply uncomfortable, and he wishes she would just go away. So he pushes her away. He yells at her, bathing in his resentment. And he actually enjoys saying all the words he hasn't been able to say for the last few months. She is deeply hurt, but she does not lash back at him; instead, she thanks him for walking her home. This is the last straw for Landon, who cannot believe anyone could be yelled at like that and respond by thanking the yeller.
Landon stands at a divide, with self-centeredness, the opinions of others, and the comforts of mediocrity on one side, and total generosity, a challenge to live an extraordinary life, and an acute focus on others on the other side. He has to choose which life he wants to live.
Lindbergh baby the baby of aviator Charles Lindbergh and his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who was kidnapped and murdered in 1932; the abduction was the biggest news story of the year.
theory of relativity Albert Einstein's famous theory about gravity that revealed the formula E = mc2.
Mount Sermon a fictional college that would likely be small, Baptist, and Biblically based.