Summary and Analysis
In response to Jamie's idea to perform in front of the orphans, Miss Garber, the drama teacher, suggests that the entire cast (not just Jamie and Landon) perform for the orphans. Jamie and Landon are charged with driving to Morehead City, the next town over, and asking the orphanage director, Mr. Jenkins, for his permission. On their way, Jamie stops by Landon's home and is astonished by its size and grandeur, especially when compared to her own modest house. Landon reflects to himself that his favorite part of the house is the window that allows him to escape his home late at night.
On their way to the orphanage, Landon and Jamie discuss their future, and Jamie suggests that Landon become a minister after college, a suggestion he finds "absolutely ridiculous." Jamie reveals that her own dream is to get married, with a tremendous crowd in attendance and her father walking her down the aisle. Given Jamie's prowess in the classroom, Landon is surprised Jamie doesn't aspire to more in life.
They turn their attention to the orphanage, where Jamie has volunteered for the last seven years. Jamie is disappointed when Mr. Jenkins rejects their idea to perform the play there; he reminds them that the subject matter might sadden the orphans. In spite of her deep disappointment, Jamie understands Mr. Jenkins' decision. She then gives Landon a tour of the orphanage, which depresses him in its starkness.
Landon struggles in his new skin. In addition to his growing resentment, he now feels guilt. When Jamie sees Landon's house for the first time, she is shocked by its magnificence. This allows Landon to see his house through her eyes — the paintings of his ancestors, the hand-made furniture, the graciousness of the neighborhood — instead of through his own. Landon has always taken his wealth for granted and has tried to escape from his home as often as possible. Jamie's reaction reminds him of how much he has and how little he appreciates it.
In this chapter, Jamie is beginning to believe in a Landon who does not yet exist, but who has the potential to. When Jamie tells Landon's mother that he has "a special heart," both Landon and his mother are surprised. That is hardly how anyone, perhaps even Jamie, would have described him in the past. But Jamie isn't misguided — that is, she is not forcing Landon to be someone he isn't or seeing something that isn't there. Quite the contrary: Jamie sees the genuine Landon, the one not concerned with social mores and popularity, who can be polite, kind, and generous. She sees a side of Landon that no one else sees, and Landon feels a certain amount of pressure from her view of him. When she suggests that he become a minister, Landon laughs off the idea, but it is comments such as that one that are beginning to change Landon's self-image. Up until now, he has thought of himself as irresponsible, perhaps even unkind at times, and Jamie is offering him a different self-image to embrace. "Unlike Jamie," Landon says, "I deserved to feel bad about myself — I knew what kind of person I was. But with her . . . ." With her, Landon feels that he can do and be more. Jamie's faith in Landon's goodness is succeeding, in Landon's words, to "twist you every way but normal."
Landon finds himself touched by the condition of the orphanage. He has grown up in luxury, yet here, the children have so little. Games and toys are broken, the surroundings are stark, and each child owns only a stuffed animal or two. When he says he "couldn't imagine growing up in a place like this," he is in the initial stages of taking some responsibility for the orphans. Thankfully, he didn't grow up in the place like this, but others do, and Landon finds this thought "depressing." Without consciously acknowledging it, Landon has taken his first step toward trying to figure out his purpose in this world — that is, what he can do to make the lives of other people that much better. He returns to this theme before the novel ends.
Perhaps in no other chapter does the voice of Landon change as much as it does throughout the course of this chapter. Landon's usual sarcasm abounds in the early pages of the chapter — for example, "I know it was an orphanage, but a guy wants to make a good impression." But later in the chapter, Landon drops his sarcasm entirely. Even when Jamie suggests a career in the ministry, he says, "Though the concept was absolutely ridiculous, with her I just knew it came from the heart and she intended it as a compliment." He ends his visit to the orphanage by genuinely replying, "'They're a nice bunch of kids . . . I'm glad that you want to help them.'" The entire scene at the orphanage is ripe for Landon's sarcasm, and yet he packs it away for the duration of his visit. His sarcastic tone will surface one more time in Chapter 7, but he is quickly moving from a sarcastic observer of life to an empathetic participant in it.
Christianity plays a tremendous role in A Walk to Remember, an interesting choice in an age of secularism. What motivated the decision to have Jamie not only be Christian but also deeply evangelical and conservative?
My sister inspired Jamie's character, and my sister was religious, so it seemed natural to include it. But once the decision had been made, I had to weigh how religious Jamie should be. It had to explain her character (why she so willingly accepted her fate) as well as the other characters perceptions of her (why they thought she was different.) I thought that adding a religious aspect to her personality did both.
At the same time, I felt it would be a clichd to create another "rebellious minister's daughter." That sort of character has been overdone in books, in films and on television.
Finally, separating the south and religion simply isn't possible. It's embedded the culture in that part of the world.
Landon is also getting a chance to see Jamie's humanity. Throughout his life, Jamie has been one-dimensional to Landon, someone who is all good, all happy, all religious. But "the more I hung around Jamie," Landon notes, "the more I realized she had lots of different emotions . . . she was just like the rest of us." This revelation is an important one to Landon because if Jamie is just like everyone else, then everyone else has the same opportunity to be as good as Jamie is. Landon, in particular, has that potential.