Summary and Analysis
Ronnie sees her mother and her brother off and then returns to the hospital. When Steve falls asleep, Ronnie takes a walk and runs into Pastor Harris, who asks Ronnie to pray with him. Ronnie begins to pray often, asking for the strength to care for her father. When she finally gets to take him home, she shows Steve the completed stained-glass window. Later that evening, after calling Jonah, Steve sits down to read his Bible and Ronnie sits with him. Ronnie reflects on how she used to try to provoke her father and how she took his refusal to get angry as a sign of weakness; she now realizes that she was wrong.
Kim sends Ronnie a package: the letters that Ronnie refused to open from her father — all 19 of them. She reads them from first to last.
Ronnie finds out from Pastor Harris that an unnamed benefactor showed up to complete the repairs on the church. Pastor Harris encourages Ronnie to have faith that God will speak to her. Ronnie wants to find that special something to do for her father before he dies, but she does not know what.
One day Ronnie is able to share with Steve some of the details about her relationship with Will — mostly the good times and even the wedding fiasco. But she is not able to discuss what she said to him the last time she saw him.
By the end of September, Steve is progressively getting worse — literally wasting away to nothing. Steve now spends the majority of his time sleeping and reading his Bible. Often he and Ronnie visit the construction site. One time Ronnie sees Mr. Blakelee there.
After completing Anna Karenina, Ronnie begins to read Doctor Zhivago. Eventually, she tells her father about her last night with Will. To her surprise, her father tells her that she was being too hard on Will, pointing out that she has been doing the same thing he had done, and he doesn't think she should say anything to Pastor Harris. Steve also tells Ronnie that she needs to "learn how to forgive." Ronnie finds a letter recently written by her father in the stack. Time passes, and Steve's health continues to decline.
One day, Ronnie and Steve return home to find Blaze and her mother waiting for them. Blaze thanks Ronnie for taking her to the hospital and also reveals that she has admitted to the District Attorney that she put the materials in Ronnie's bag. The DA is not going to charge Blaze because she has information about a series of crimes that Marcus committed, including the fire at the church. Blaze reveals that Marcus started the fire, not Scott.
Ronnie realizes that Blaze's confession means that what Ronnie wanted would have ruined Scott's life for nothing. Blaze tells Ronnie that she will help her whenever she wants asks to be called by her given name, Galadriel.
Ronnie continues to nurse her father through Halloween and into November; during this time, she keeps trying to get to know him better.
Steve and Ronnie make one last visit to the pier, and after, Steve shares with Ronnie that he has a DNR — a "do not resuscitate" order.
Steve lives long enough to see the window installed at the church, and Ronnie reads her father's final letter. Thanksgiving passes, and Ronnie finds the unfinished song that Steve was working on in the summer. She works on it and in the morning realizes that her dad is in bad shape. Ronnie calls an ambulance and he regains consciousness in hospital.
She asks her father for one last thing, borrows Pastor Harris' car, and calls Galadriel, and they take down the wall. Ronnie makes all sorts of last minute arrangements with the hospital staff and with Galadriel, and when she takes her father home, she shows him the piano and tells him that she completed his song, that it became "our song" and she wants to play it for him.
During this chapter Ronnie learns the value of prayer. Reading the Bible, like reading any good book, provides a new insight each time the reader returns to it again. This return to faith helps Ronnie and teaches her to list her gifts. Nicholas Sparks uses format and spacing to draw attention to the importance of these gifts.
Ronnie continues to mature as a young adult. When she talks to Jonah, she reassures him about their father's condition because she knows it's more important for him to have happy memories of his father than for him to know the truth. Ronnie is doing for Jonah what Steve did for her. Steve also teaches Ronnie about the importance of practicing forgiveness. He recognizes that Ronnie is being too hard on Will and on herself.
The tearing down of the wall is important both practically and symbolically. With no wall in place, Ronnie is able to perform for her father one last time, and Steve is able to die at home. This symbolizes how the wall between Galadriel and Ronnie, as well as the wall between Ronnie and her father, has been torn down.
Ronnie's decision to finish her father's composition truly makes his last song a joint effort. The last song refers to the final song that both Steve and Ronnie wrote and the last song that he hears. His song becomes "our" song as Ronnie creates something that will live on after Steve's death.
The subplot of The Last Song, particularly Blaze's story, parallels the main storyline. From an artistic perspective, why did you do this?
Primarily, Blaze's story was meant to do two things: Add additional drama and show the consequences of making poor decisions. At the same time, Blaze eventually learns from her mistakes. I tend to believe that most people do. I know I've learned more from my mistakes than my successes. I also liked Blaze's character, because like Ronnie, hers was a story of redemption. I think redemption is one of the great themes in literature.