Summary and Analysis
Chapter 20 - Will
As they walk along the beach, Will reflects on the changes in the area since he was a boy, and thoughts of marriage enter his mind. Although he knows he is too young right now for such things, he thinks about how Ronnie might be the one he wants to spend his life with. He uses his parents' 30-year marriage as his model.
His two years with Ashley, who was rich and beautiful, included her cheating on him with a college guy. That in and of itself did not lead to their break up, but Will began to see Ashley and the way she treated people differently.
Like his sister Megan, Will believes that if the relationship "can't survive the long term, why on earth would it be worth my time and energy for the short term." When Ronnie asks, "What are you thinking about?" he notices her attempting to gather her hair into a loose ponytail as he answers.
They have an awkward conversation about money, status, relationships, and truth. Ronnie tells him that Steve is making a stained-glass window; Will reveals he is supposed to go to Vanderbilt in the fall but prefers a school that has a strong environmental science program. As he talks about needing to go to Vanderbilt, Will explains about a car accident that he, his mother, Scott, and a younger brother, Mike were in four years ago. Scott and Will were playing mercy in the backseat; Will made Scott scream; his mother looked back, lost control of the car, which crashed through the guardrail and into the water. Although Mikey was killed on impact, Scott saved Will and his mother.
Will then explains that the letters IMTF on the macramé bracelet stand for "In my thoughts forever" and refer to his dead brother. He tells Ronnie that he does not have the perfect life he assumes she thinks he has.
After Will opens up to Ronnie, she shares her history with her father. She tells him about her not playing piano anymore. They see a shooting star and make a wish. Though Will does not reveal his wish to Ronnie, readers know that he feels lucky to have found her and that he thinks he might be falling in love with her.
Will's revelation about the car accident makes the opening line of Anna Karenina seem particularly apt — each family is unhappy in its own way, and this is the Blakelee family's unhappiness. Both Will and Ronnie have had a mixture of happiness and sorrow in their lives, but with each other, they seem to be developing something that will not only enable them to endure the bad times but to create many new happy ones.
Details in this chapter reveal the hold that Scott has over Will. Will feels grateful, indebted, and loyal to Scott, and he feels guilty if he doesn't want to do something Scott wants him to. Will has a sense of obligation to Scott, and Scott knows this. Even though Ronnie and Will both have complicated, difficult pasts, in this chapter they begin to move toward emotional intimacy.
Sultan of Brunei the head of state and head of government of the sovereign state of Brunei, which is on the island of Borneo in southeast Asia
Does a modern love story, like The Last Song, need to have tragedy within it in order to more fully appreciate the beauty of a developing love relationship?
There has to be tragedy in some form, if only because love stories are written with the intent of moving the reader through the entire realm of human emotion. The goal of a love story is to make the reader feel as if they've led a "mini-life" between the pages. A story without sadness simply wouldn't feel complete to the reader. It would feel like a fantasy, and that's an entirely different genre.