Summary and Analysis
This chapters opens in the hospital, right after Jonah and Ronnie have told their father about completing the window. After sending Jonah to the soda machine, Steve tells Ronnie that her trial has been postponed until October. Steve then asks how Jonah is really holding up. He also asks about Will, but Ronnie isn't ready to talk about what happened yet.
Ronnie asks her father about what used to lessen his pain, needing to know that her father sacrificed playing the piano in order to fulfill her childish demands.
Jonah returns with Kim, and the next morning Ronnie reveals that she is not going to return to New York. Kim attempts to dissuade her by telling her that it is not her responsibility, but Ronnie counters with "Then whose is it?" Ronnie tells her mother that Steve is her father, regardless of the fact that he had an affair. But Kim's guilty face betrays her secret — she was the one who had an affair. Ronnie's shock quickly turns to anger, and she says that whatever happened between the two of them is in the past, and now her father needs her.
Jonah walks in as Ronnie announces her decision to stay and decides that he is also staying; Ronnie realizes this would be a mistake. She does not want her brother to watch their father die. Jonah closes the chapter screaming, "That's not fair!"
Jonah's comments about being patient ("even they [Ronnie and Will] made mistakes") demonstrate the effect Steve's parenting has on his son. It also continues the themes of faith and forgiveness that have run through the novel so far.
Ronnie is overwhelmed by her father's forgiveness regarding her selfish desire to have him board up the piano. She is upset that she acted selfishly, but Steve makes her see that he had no problem making that sacrifice and that he had an incredible summer, one that may not have turned out the way it did if he had not boarded up the piano. Ronnie's decision to stay to care of her father is the first of many important decisions she makes as an adult.
Learning how to deal with someone who has been dishonest is another important thematic topic in The Last Song. Ronnie learns that her mother has been lying to her regarding the affair — a lie that was part of the reason Ronnie refused to talk to Steve for three years. The issue of honesty has come up in many of her relationships: with her father, with Will, and now her mother. She is able to dismiss her mother's lie because more important things are in the forefront of her mind.
Another important issue raised explicitly in this chapter and throughout the entire novel is the issue of fairness. When Jonah screams "that's not fair" at the end of the chapter, he is absolutely correct: Life is not fair. As soon as Ronnie truly understands that life is not fair, she will find it easier to make some important decisions.