Summary and Analysis
This chapter begins with the same words as a Prologue: "When I was seventeen, my life changed forever." Because Jamie agrees to marry Landon but has little time left, frantic preparations begin.
Reverend Sullivan officiates the wedding; Landon's dad serves as his best man, as is the Southern custom, and the emotional gap between them has now disappeared. And as in Jamie's vision of her wedding, the church is packed with guests. Wearing the white gown from the Christmas play, Jamie finds the strength to walk down the aisle with her father. It is slow going, but in the eyes of Landon and all the assembled guests it is, indeed, "a walk to remember."
Fifty-seven-year-old Landon reflects on that day, telling us that he now believes in miracles.
This final chapter creates more questions than it answers, which is Sparks' intention. As Landon scurries to make plans for the wedding, his parents and Jamie's father try to change his mind, thinking he is marrying Jamie only to make her last days happy. He assures them that he is actually doing this for himself; he is following his heart and the voice of God, as he understands it. Landon knows he loves Jamie and knows he would have wanted to marry her even if she had never been ill. "In that year," Landon says, "Jamie helped me become the man I am today."
In the final two paragraphs of the chapter, Landon reflects on the 40 years that have passed since his wedding day. He has never removed his ring in all those years, and he still loves Jamie. And more than anything else, Landon reveals that he now believes in miracles. And thus the novel ends, without our knowing to which miracle Landon refers. Did Jamie survive and live out the last 40 years with Landon? Or was the miracle the extraordinary change in Landon's character that he so radically matured as a result of the events that transpired that year? Did he, perhaps, become a minister, as Jamie had advised — was that the miracle to which he refers? Did he give away his Grandfather's fortune? Sparks intentionally leaves these implied questions unanswered so that readers must answer them for themselves.
In the second-to-last paragraph of the novel, Landon Carter tells readers he never removed his wedding ring, that "in all the years, I've never felt the desire to do so." Are we to assume Landon never remarried? Was this a testament to his love for Jamie?
It can be read in two ways, both of which tie into the ambiguous ending. Either Jamie survived and they stayed married, or he never removed his ring as a testament to his love for Jamie. Of course, this begs the question as to whether Jamie lived or died, since it wasn't made clear in the novel.
Landon's narrative voice transforms over the course of the novel, from that of a young, self-centered, aimless boy to a loving, Christian, generous, outwardly focused young man. Yet the change occurs so slowly and smoothly that readers may hardly notice. How did you achieve such a successful transition in a character's voice?
That's the sort of question that's almost impossible to answer, since it goes to the "magic" of writing and no author can fully explain it. I will say, however, that Landon's growth stemmed organically from both specific events and his interpretation of them, as well as his growing love for Jamie. As he focused more on Jamie's generous qualities, the more he began to view events differently in retrospect. When the next event then happened, he incorporated these new perspectives in his response, which in turn led him to grow.