The Last Lecture Chapters 20-22 Summary & Analysis

Randy Pausch

The Last Lecture

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The Last Lecture Chapters 20-22 Summary & Analysis

Chapters 20 – 22

Chapter 20 focuses on Randy’s father and how he learned a surprising truth about his dad after his death that he had never known while he was alive. While searching through his dad’s things, he “came upon mysteries that made smile” (94). While leafing through a pile of documents, Randy finds a citation for “‘heroic achievement’” (96) from when his father was in the army. He had risked his own life to administer medical attention to wounded soldiers and because of his actions, “all the wounded were evacuated successfully” (96). For his heroism, Randy’s dad was awarded the Bronze Star for valor. For Randy, this was an intense experience in humility.

In Chapter 21, Randy describes Jai’s treatment of Randy – “by being frank” (98). Even though Randy drives her crazy with his annoying habits around the house—such as not putting dishes away–their therapist encourages them to let the little stuff go, in order to enjoy the time they have left together. As a result, “Jai tries to focus on today, rather than the negative things down the road.” (99). She tells Randy that she has “four very good reasons to suck it up and keep going” (100). She seeks support from other people whose spouses have terminal illnesses and “tries to focus on happier times” (101).

In the last chapter of this section, Randy shares a brief vignette about being pulled over by a police officer for speeding. When questioned by the officer, Randy bluntly tells him of his diagnosis with terminal cancer, even lifting up his shirt to show him his surgical scars. The policeman let him go with a warning to slow down.

Chapters 20-22 Analysis

Randy’s respect for Jai and her infinite patience and “frankness” with him resonates with the following chapter about his father’s war honors, in that they both speak to the importance of humility, something that every person needs. His father’s secret award for bravery reminds Randy that not all big accomplishments should be broadcasted, that simply doing the right thing is the reward. Randy is similarly impressed by Jai’s bravery…

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