Summary and Analysis
Landon secures the role of Tom Thornton and begins three weeks of rehearsals with the rest of the cast, led by the drama teacher, Miss Garber. Acting does not come naturally to Landon so he has to work hard both to remember his lines and to give a credible performance. For this hard work, he resents Jamie.
One night, when Landon is out with his friends, Jamie approaches him, which increases both his friends' teasing about Jamie and Landon's resentment toward her. The two discuss the play, and Eric mockingly suggests that the two of them perform their lines for the orphans as a dry run. Jamie does not catch Eric's mocking tone and loves the idea. She decides to approach the orphanage director with the plan, which kicks Landon's practice and memorization into high gear because he doesn't want to embarrass himself in front of the orphans.
In this short chapter, Landon takes a step back in his maturation process. He has done a generous deed by agreeing to play Tom Thornton in the play, but he has not done so willingly, and he resents the person he believes drove him to it. Landon has not yet begun to realize that he is the reason for his involvement in the play and in Jamie's life, that he wants — on some gut level — to be a better person. He fails to recognize that he likes who he is when he's around Jamie Sullivan, and that he is ready to leave his old ways behind. For now, Landon believes he is being manipulated into uncomfortable behaviors and wishes he could go back to his old ways of thinking and behaving. His resentment will continue to build until he lashes out at Jamie in Chapter 7.
burning bush reference to a Biblical passage from Exodus, in which an angel appears in the fires of a burning bush.
the willies a deeply uncomfortable feeling that may result in a physical shudder.
brigadier general a high-ranking military officer; in the Salvation Army, one of the highest-ranking officers.
confession a Catholic sacrament, in which a person formally declares his or her sins to a priest.
Paul Bunyan's bowling ball Outside the Paul Bunyan Bowl in Baxter, Minnesota, stands a giant statue of Paul Bunyan and his ox, Babe. In the statue, Bunyan holds an oversized bowling ball.
Et tu, Eric a play on the famous line from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, "Et tu, Brutus?" in which Caesar responds in disbelief to the idea that his friend had just betrayed him.
Writing coaches warn budding novelists about creating perfect, flawless characters. Yet Jamie Sullivan is virtually flawless. Why, in your opinion, does such a perfect character resonate so deeply with readers?
While I'll admit that Jamie is kind, non-judgmental, mature, accepting and forgiving, she isn't flawless by any stretch of the imagination. She has few friends, she doesn't necessarily relate well to those around her, she has few obvious talents and it's clear that Landon felt somewhat ostracized simply for spending time with her.
And yet . . . kindness, acceptance, maturity, forgiveness and a non-judgmental attitude are traits most people would want to see in their own children. More important, those tend to be the traits most people want to see in themselves. And watching Landon fall in love with Jamie — despite his promise to her that he wouldn't and despite the attitude of his friends — makes people feel as if sometimes, just sometimes, goodness can triumph.