Summary and Analysis
After visiting Easter Island, the tour continues to Rarotonga, on the Cook Islands, in the South Pacific. There the brothers have the day to themselves, with the tour scheduled to leave for Australia the following morning. The Cook Islands are known for their black pearls, and Nicholas and Micah purchase some for their wives. They explore the island on motor scooters, and Nicholas does not even think of work — for the first time in years he feels as if he were actually on a vacation.
The brothers share memories of watching scary movies with their father, something they would not do with their kids even though they are at similar ages. After snorkeling, they plan on a pub crawl, but their afternoon nap turns into sleeping through the night.
The narrative transitions back to high school memories. At this time Micah was threatened with military school for marijuana possession and a pierced ear. Nicholas and Micah grew closer, not just as brothers but as friends. During their adolescence, their father had three rules: A. Do not drink and drive. B. Do not get a girl pregnant. C. Be in by your curfew.
As Micah got wilder and wilder, Nicholas began competing in track and field. Harold, an older runner, served as a mentor and encouraged Nicholas. Nicholas spent the summer training, and at the end of the summer, he convinced Micah to join the cross country team in the fall. Even though he had an outstanding year, his sophomore year was even better. For the first time in his life, Nicholas was better than Micah at something. Nicholas started to read, taking up the classics as well as Stephen King, and he had a very scheduled life between work, running, school, and having a girlfriend.
Micah articulated that he wanted to be a millionaire by age 35. Nicholas made his goal five years earlier. A part of Nicholas envied his brother, specifically Micah's ability to "live, without having to achieve." In hindsight, Nicholas realizes that he was pursuing goals for the sake of attaining them but had little joy attempting to achieve them. Nicholas did become class valedictorian — another goal to cross off his list.
Dana has her own insecurities at this time. She is concerned about her looks and feels inferior compared to her brothers. She is also worried about not being asked to the prom, but both brothers, independently of each other, ask their sister to attend.
This chapter is important because it demonstrates how the friendship that is quite evident in the present-day trip narrative was formed and developed. At this time in their lives, the brothers are not only becoming adults, they are becoming friends.
The chapter is also important because much of it focuses on their father. Up to this point, Patrick has been pretty much an enigma to readers as well as to the children. But as adults looking back, they recognize the things their father did and did not do, and appreciate the way he raised them. He was a good listener, which was a way to help the brothers work their way through their own issues, problems, and concerns. Their father's ironclad rules not only worked for them growing up, they were the only rules that Micah actually seemed to follow.
Captain Bligh a British admiral who captained the H.M.S. Bounty in 1789 when part of the crew mutinied and set him afloat in an open boat
draconian very severe, oppressive or strict
Your father had three ironclad rules. Do you have similar rules for your children? What other aspects of your raising children can you attribute directly from your father?
Yes, and the rules for my children are exactly the same. I found them reasonable as a teenager, and I find them reasonable as an adult. My oldest sons abide by them, as will my younger children when the time comes.
My dad, like me, was always a learner. He read constantly, and I've certainly turned into much the same kind of person. My dad was also kind and patient. Yes, he had struggles, but then again, I've had struggles, too. And through it all, he remained my dad, a man that I admired.
You mention Stephen King a couple of times in your memoir. What effect has his style had on your writing? Do you have an all-time favorite Stephen King book?
Stephen King is one of the great writers of the 20th century. The scope and breadth and quality of his work is staggering; this is a man who's written everything from award-winning short stories, to novellas, to screenplays and teleplays, to standard novels and epic novels. No other writer in history has shown the range and ability of Stephen King.
Yet, what I learned from him most was simply this: never lose sight of the fact that you're telling a story that should interest the reader. Language is important, style is important, length and character development are important . . . but tell a story that keeps the reader wanting more. Though I work in a different genre, I try to do exactly the same thing. As far as a favorite novel, I've read them all. And every short story. And every novella. It would be impossible to pick just one.