A Walk to Remember Summary & Study Guide
SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 35-page guide for “A Walk to Remember” by Nicholas Sparks includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 13 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like Faith, Sickness, and Miracles and Overturning Stereotypes.
A Walk to Remember is a 1999 novel by bestselling American romance-writer Nicholas Sparks. It was adapted into a movie in 2002. The novel, set in 1958 in the coastal North Carolina town of Beaufort, builds on the brand Sparks established in his earlier bestselling 1996 novel, The Notebook, which is a historical romance set in a North Carolina coastal town during the 1940s. This North Carolina setting is also a locale of subsequent works, such as Nights in Rodanthe. A common theme of Sparks’s novels seen in the A Walk to Remember is the juxtaposition of two time periods, the present and the past, in which an older person remembers a long-ago love.
In 1999, the narrator, 57-year-old Landon Carter reflects on the fall of 1958, when he was 17. Directly addressing the reader, he promises that he will deliver the story of that fate-changing year.
In the fall of his senior year of high school, affluent Landon Carter is popular but uncertain of his purpose in life. When his father suggests that he run for student body president to enhance his college prospects, Landon does—and wins the election. He’s stumped by the Homecoming Dance, however, when he cannot find a date amongst the eligible girls in the school. Faced with the prospect of either going alone or taking “the kind of girls who had thick glasses and talked with lisps” (25), Landon elects to invite Jamie Sullivan, who comes from a religious Baptist with whom the capitalist Carter family has something of a feud. Although Landon is embarrassed to be in Jamie’s presence in front of his friends, Jamie comes to his rescue when she prevents his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend from beating him up.
In return, Jamie asks Landon for a favor: to play the lead male role of Tom Thornton in a Christmas play written by her father. Landon is reluctant, but he agrees when Jamie—who will play the lead female role of the Angel—begins crying because she wants the play to be extra special this year. As Landon and Jamie attend rehearsals, and he walks her home, he learns that the Bible she carries belonged to her deceased mother, and that Jamie’s “practically normal” as opposed to a superior, religious ideologue (82). He also learns that Jamie wishes to get married in a packed church and have her father give her away.
Still, after a day of difficult rehearsals and being teased by his friends about spending so much time with Jamie, Landon snaps under pressure. He tells her that he cannot wait for the play to be over and for things to return to normal. Seemingly upset, Jamie thanks Landon for walking her home.
The next day, which is the play’s first performance, Landon regrets the way he spoke to Jamie and vows to do a good job of playing Tom Thornton. He’s nervous about delivering the line “You’re beautiful” with conviction, because he does not feel that way about Jamie. However, when he sees her on stage, with her hair loose as opposed to her customary bun, Landon does fall for Jamie’s beauty.
Jamie requests that Landon collect the jars she has placed in stores around town to raise money for the local orphanage. When he sees the measly amount donates, he generously subsidizes with his own savings. Jamie is grateful and invites him to the orphanage on Christmas Eve. Seeing Jamie under the tree, Landon falls in love with her. He invites her to Christmas dinner at his family home and, the next day, kisses her on the porch. While Landon is keen to express his love, he senses that Jamie is holding back and wonders whether she returns the sentiment. One day, she finally confesses her secret: She’s dying of leukemia.
As Landon watches Jamie waste away, he prays for a miracle and begins reading the Bible with her. In a gesture of atonement for the feud between the two families, Landon’s father pays for Jamie’s care so that she can spend her last weeks at home.
One day, when Jamie falls asleep while Landon is speaking to her, he comes across a passage in the Bible: “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it to the earnestness of others” (161). He interprets this as a direct command from God to fulfil Jamie’s wish and marry her. When 57-year-old Landon recalls the day that he and Jamie married in a packed church, he knows that it will be his dying memory. The text ends on an ambiguous spiritual note, stating that Landon, who still wears his wedding ring from that day, believes in miracles.