Summary and Analysis
Thinking about his composition, Steve realizes that for the first time he is trusting himself rather than trying to recreate some of the past masters. He uses this as an analogy for the way he lived his life, attempting to emulate others rather than trusting himself.
Steve has an honest and open discussion with Jonah about the future. Jonah, who has had a great summer, does not want the good times to end. He suggests either staying in North Carolina or having his father move back to New York, but he knows this will not happen.
The next morning Steve thinks about how God is a mystery, as is the search for God. This thought stays with him as he spends the day with Jonah, visiting a fort, a water park, and Chuck E. Cheese's. Steve has a good but tiring day.
The start of the chapter is background to Steve's creative process, which reveals much about Steve's development as both an artist and a person. His quest to make music parallels his quest to find and experience God. Like Ronnie, he is finally figuring out who he is and where he fits in this world. But as important as these insights are to the development of Steve's character, they are nothing compared to the incredibly important conversation Steve has with Jonah.
Jonah is trying to get a commitment from his father to visit New York and uses the fact that Ronnie has changed to entice Steve.
Steve emphasizes that they all have changed this summer. He realizes that spending time with his children and talking about seemingly unimportant things, like learning to stand on your head, is one of the most important things in life.
Jonah also suggests going to school in North Carolina or Steve moving back to New York and remarrying his mother. In this moment, Jonah is just a 10-year-old boy searching for some stability in his life, one who loves his father, and doesn't want their time together to end.
Steve's realization that the search for God's presence is "as much of a mystery as God himself" provides him with a sense of peace, although he may never understand it.
The foreshadowing about Steve's medical condition intensifies in this chapter. At one point, it reads, "He honestly felt as though he were going to die." This sentence is so important that it is its own paragraph.
The chapter ends with Steve's assertion that the day was good because it was a day "of laughter." Steve spent the day with his son doing things that were important and interesting for Jonah. This is another example of Steve's love and way of parenting.
Schumann German composer and music critic of the Romantic period
Grieg Norwegian composer and pianist of the Romantic period
Saint-Sans French composer and pianist
Fort Fisher Confederate fort during the Civil War that protected trading routes