Summary and Analysis
In this, the longest chapter of the novel, Landon discovers that Jamie has leukemia. She and her father have known for seven months and have told no one, deciding that they would rather live without the sadness and pity of others for as long as possible. Jamie and Landon then tell his mother, and Reverend Sullivan shares the sad news with the congregation. When school begins again, teachers inform the students of Jamie's condition, and the entire student body grieves. Jamie's disease is a rare form with no cure, and she has only a few months to live unless a miracle occurs.
Landon feels fear and begins to investigate that emotion. He fears death, fears upsetting Jamie, fears talking about the future with her. He discovers, however, that Jamie is afraid, too, although she puts on a strong front. Jamie stops attending school to spend more time with her father; Landon, meanwhile, begins to pray for a miracle and starts reading Jamie's Bible every night, looking for guidance and answers.
Landon begins to ponder what he can do, if anything. His mother, who is deeply saddened by Jamie's and Landon's situation, encourages Landon to listen to his heart.
Jamie's disease progresses rapidly, such that she loses more weight, takes on a gray pallor, and bruises even more easily. She is nearly always cold, and she takes medication to ease her pain. She and Landon discuss Landon's reading of the Bible and the meaning of faith: Jamie reveals that her faith in God is still strong; Landon reveals that he is losing his. The two begin to study the Bible together. After a dinner at Landon's house, during which he assures Jamie that he will continue to visit her even during her last days, Jamie tells Landon that she loves him.
Reverend Sullivan allows the two to stay indoors together, without supervision, for a few hours each day after school. One day, amidst a steady stream of visitors, Eric and Margaret stop by Jamie's house while Landon is there. Eric apologizes for Jamie's condition and opens up to her, revealing that he believes she is the kindest person he has ever met. Both Eric and Margaret weep openly, and Jamie holds each of them in a long embrace. Eric tells Jamie he's praying for her, and then leaves an envelope with $400 he collected for the orphanage.
As Landon waits for his miracle, Jamie's condition again worsens. She is clearly dying, and Landon searches for something he can do. When Jamie requires hospital care, Landon's mother calls his father home, and the two of them step in and pay for full-time, in-home medical care for Jamie. This moment is, for Landon, the first time he feels close to his father.
Yet Landon still searches for something to do — some way to answer the growing feeling in his heart that he can do more for Jamie. He asks God for guidance, but he also begins to ask the great existential questions: Why am I here? What is my purpose? Why have the events of my life unfolded as they have?
One day, with a sudden sense of purpose, Landon knows what he has to do. He rushes to the church, insistent on seeing Reverend Sullivan, who responds with shock to Landon's idea. Landon then runs to Jamie's house and asks whether she will do something for him. When she agrees, Landon goes forward with his plans: He asks Jamie to marry him.
In this chapter, Landon's voice shifts entirely to that of an adult. Although he is still 17, his voice matches that of the voice of 57-year-old Landon in the Prologue and in the final chapter. Since Chapter 1, the voice of Landon has gradually shifted from that of a child to that of an adult, but here readers see that 17-year-old Landon has reached maturity.
Everything comes together in this chapter. Landon recognizes that his and Jamie's future lies outside his control. He begins to pray, asking God for a miracle. He recognizes that actions — "not thoughts or intentions" — are the most important barometer for human behavior. He begins to feel an overwhelming sense that there is a path for him to take, something specific for him to do. But he does not yet know what it is. He begins to read the Bible, looking for an answer. He discovers that the proper path in life cannot be discerned from thinking his way through it but from listening to his heart. In the final analysis, this is the most important theme of A Walk to Remember: Life isn't about thinking logically about situations but about feeling your way through them. If Landon had never learned this lesson, he would still be mocking Jamie.
Instead, Landon is learning to be of service to others. He is with Jamie every chance he gets, and he is eager to comfort her pain, both emotionally and physically. They read the Bible together, an activity he was unwilling to do only a few weeks before because he was afraid his lack of knowledge would embarrass him. Those fears are now gone. They discuss passages they read, and they discuss the meaning of faith.
Landon also gets close to his father for the first time in his life when his parents decide to use their wealth for Jamie's comfort. This is, perhaps, one way to give back Grandfather Carter's money, which Jamie suggested in Chapter 10.
Readers also see that everyone in the community is affected by Jamie's illness. It was one thing to mock Jamie, who was so kind and gentle, when she was healthy, but now that she is dying, her classmates see the patent unfairness of her condition, that they are healthy and think only of themselves, while she is dying and thinks only of others. This change of heart is manifested in Eric and Margaret's visit to Jamie's house, and especially in the formerly tough Eric's collection of $400 for the orphanage. That Eric can cry so readily and ask for Jamie's forgiveness are signs not only of his own maturity but of the maturity that will be required of all of Jamie's peers as they watch her die.
The chapter ends with Landon's awakening to his purpose. He knows now, without a doubt, what it is he will do, and he sets out to put the plan in motion, securing Reverend Sullivan's permission to marry Jamie and then asking her for her hand. Although this decision neatly wraps up Landon and Jamie's story, there is a much larger theme here: Everyone must search for their purpose, listening to their hearts in order to come to those decisions, rather than making logical choices for which they may not feel strongly.
Job an Old Testament man who was severely tested by God.