Summary and Analysis
The play is a huge success, and everyone is amazed at Jamie's transformative beauty. When, after the closing curtain, Jamie thanks Landon for his part in the play, he feels a pang of sadness at not being able to walk her home that night.
By the following Monday, however, Jamie is back to her old self and so are her classmates' attitudes toward her. Landon busies himself with schoolwork and college applications that, combined with some lingering guilt over his harsh words toward Jamie, keep Landon from reaching out to Jamie. However, Jamie asks for Landon's help in collecting the 60 cans and jars she has placed around town to collect change that she intends to use to buy Christmas presents for the orphans. Landon agrees to help.
Three days later, when Landon sees that only $55.73 has been collected — a paltry sum even in 1958 — he empties his bank account and, without telling Jamie what he has done, brings nearly $250 to Jamie. She insists on taking Landon with her to the orphanage to deliver the gifts she buys with the money, and he is touched by what he witnesses there: a spectacular tree; presents for each child; and clean, well-behaved children. Because Jamie and Landon arrive separately that day, when he finally sees her, reading to the children, again he is stuck by how beautiful she looks. Landon describes the evening as the best Christmas Eve he's ever experienced.
When Landon and Jamie exchange gifts, he gives her a new sweater, and she gives him her Bible. Landon is deeply touched by her gift; reflecting to himself on the times they have spent together, he realizes he has fallen in love with Jamie.
In this chapter, readers see a new Landon, one who has let go of his logical side, the expectations of his friends, and his own resistance to the idea of having Jamie in his life. He is looking at his old self in retrospect, no longer struggling with who he is and how he will live his life. He feels some shame about his past behavior, but that behavior is now solidly in the past. Landon gives in entirely to a new approach to life, the one Jamie embodies, summing it up this way: "The right thing . . . wasn't so bad after all."
Note that, just after the play ends, Landon associates himself with Reverend Sullivan for the first time; Landon recognizes that they are complements in their mutual fondness of and pride for Jamie. Up until this point, Landon's behavior when interacting with Jamie has mimicked that of his own father, who is distant and cold. But from this point forward, Landon will use Hegbert as his model, and readers will recognize similarities in the way the two men show their love for Jamie.
With this change in behavior and attitude, Landon now eagerly accepts Jamie's requests of him rather than reluctantly agreeing as he has done in the past. This time, her quest is to collect the money donated to the orphans for their Christmas presents, and when only a small amount has been collected, Landon anonymously hands over his own money without even a moment's hesitation. He feels no torment and doesn't enter into any sort of logical debate with himself about donating his own savings — he just does the right thing and enjoys the results.
Recall Landon's reluctance to visit the orphanage only a month before; by contrast, when Jamie invites Landon to the orphanage to celebrate Christmas Eve, he gladly accepts and can hardly wait to see her. Afterward, he calls it the best Christmas Eve he has ever spent.
Likewise, the Bible he spent much of his days mocking Jamie about now belongs to him, and he treasures it. He doesn't quite understand — nor, perhaps, do readers — why she has given him the most precious possession she owns. She does so for two reasons. First, Jamie is aware that Landon secretly added nearly $200 to the collection for the orphanage. She had been hoping this Christmas would be special for the children, and without Landon's donation, it would have been far less so. Through his generosity, he has allowed Jamie to give the orphans the Christmas she wanted them to have, and she wants to show him how grateful she is. Second, Jamie wants Landon to have his own Bible, and one that means something to him. She is aware that he may need it soon, and she wants him to turn to it should he encounter a time of despair. Landon is so touched when he receives Jamie's gift that he cries.