“Don’t story, A Walk to Remember is filled with

“Don’t
judge a book by its cover.” This is a common phrase we have all heard before,
but does that ever stop us from judging someone before actually getting to know
them? Even if we don’t want to admit it, we all have judged at least one person
in our life so far. With A Walk to
Remember, Nicholas Sparks tells a story that has a central theme of not
judging someone before getting to know them. Just like any other story, A Walk to Remember is filled with many
different literary devices which includes foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony. A Walk to Remember is a perfect example
of the power of love and Nicholas Sparks uses the several different literary
devices to relate to readers.

            A
Walk to Remember tells a love story about two people who are complete
opposites of each other: Landon Carter, a seventeen-year-old high school senior
who belongs to a very high class and elegant family, and Jamie Sullivan, the
pastor’s daughter who wears old sweaters & plaid skirts, carries a Bible
with her wherever she goes, and believes that whatever happens in life is
according to God’s plan. The story is told from the point of view of
fifty-seven-year-old Landon Carter. Because Jamie is extremely religious,
Landon, at first, is not interested in her and does not think that she is “his
type,” but those feelings eventually change after Landon is forced to take
Jamie to homecoming and work with her for the town play. After getting to see
what her life is like outside of school, he realizes he misjudged her. Landon
falls deeply in love with Jamie, even after she told him he couldn’t fall in
love with her; Jamie also reciprocates those feelings. Later on, Landon finds
out Jamie has leukemia and is slowly dying; he realizes that she does not have
much time left with him, so he proposes and they get married just a few months
before she dies.

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            New Criticism is a literary theory
that replaced biographical-historical criticism and emphasizes the close
reading of a text. For New Criticism, the complexity of a text is created by
the many, sometimes conflicting, meanings that are woven throughout it (Tyson
138). These meanings include paradox, irony, ambiguity, and tension. New
Critics believe focusing on the text itself is the only way to interpret
literature because it avoids relying on the author’s intention and the analysis
involves a close reading of formal elements. Some of the formal elements found
in literature include images, symbols, point of view, plot, and
characterization. New Critics also focus on the figurative language of a text
which is used to discover the overall meaning or theme of the text. Examples of
figurative language includes image, symbolism, and metaphor.

            One specific piece of irony present
in A Walk to Remember happens after
we find out that Landon has fallen in love with Jamie. For the first half of
the book we are under the impression that Landon finds Jamie weird and has no
interest in her whatsoever. Eventually, we find, after getting to know her and
hanging out with her, Landon changes his thoughts about Jamie, and he falls in
love with her. Jamie had actually told him that in order for her to go to
homecoming with him there was one restriction: he could not fall in love with
her. Landon finds that one condition funny, and does not think it will ever
happen so he agrees to it; little did he know, he would eventually fall in love
with her.

            Tension is present in the story when
the relationship between Landon and his father is discussed. Worth Carter,
Landon’s father, is a friendly, charismatic congressman, but is not around very
much, as he lives in Washington, D.C. for his job. Landon is more withdrawn,
which causes some tension in their relationship. Later on, when Jamie becomes
very sick, she refuses to stay at the hospital because she wants to die at
home. The Sullivan’s did not have the money to afford at home medical care, but
Worth Carter helps to provide Jamie with the best equipment and doctors so she
can spend the rest of her time at home. Landon later learns that his father is
who was paying for the private home care for Jamie, so he then shows up at his
father’s door and thanks him before breaking down in tears as his father hugs
him; this gesture helped to repair the distance between father and son.

            Jamie Sullivan’s old copy of the
Bible serves as a recurring theme that not only characterizes Jamie but also
suggests one of the underlying themes of the novel: faith in God. Jamie is always
seen with her Bible. She interprets everything that happens to her in terms of
her understanding of God, which is a reason why other students tend to mock her
throughout the story. At Christmas, Jamie gives the Bible, which was once her
mother’s, to Landon. The giving of the Bible to Landon is a very significant
moment in the story: her faith is being passed to Landon. This also symbolizes
a piece of herself that she gives to Landon, which will be something that he
has for the rest of his life.

            A
Walk to Remember is full of symbolism, obvious or not, that can be observed
whenever being read. One of the most important symbols revealed in the story is
actually the title of the book: “A Walk to Remember.” The “walk to remember” is
not only Jamie’s walk down the aisle to marry Landon, but it is also a metaphor
for the journey we all take in order to give our life meaning. Jamie teaches
this concept not only to the characters in the story, but to the readers of the
story. Jamie’s walk down the aisle, “a walk to remember,” symbolizes her
strength and her love for all the people that were present in her life. 

The
first piece of foreshadowing comes in the first sentence of the prologue: “When
I was seventeen, my life changed forever” (Sparks xi). Landon telling us that
his life changed forever prepares us for the profound events that happen
throughout the rest of the story, that he has never forgotten. He also
foreshadows the relationship that develops between Jamie and himself by stating
“First you will smile, and then you will cry—don’t say you haven’t been warned”
(Sparks xiii). Without even reading the rest of the story, from this statement,
the reader knows that the love story about to unfold is going to include a
rollercoaster of emotions, so we, therefore, must be ready to go for a ride.

Landon
and his friends spend a lot of time at the graveyard, and like to hang out
there late at night; they sit on the tombstones and talk. But their talks do
not include anything related to life and death. One day as Landon is getting to
know Jamie, she asks him what he and his friends do when they go to the
graveyard. She then tells him that if she were to go there she would just sit
quietly and appreciate nature. Landon finds it weird that she asks him about
the graveyard. Little did he know that it would have a significance that he was
unaware of at the time. Jamie knew she was fatally ill, but Landon did not,
which is why he can hang out at the graveyard without thinking about serious
thoughts. The presence of the graveyard also foreshadows the theme of death
that is introduced later on in the book.

Dying is a theme that is discussed throughout
the story. The theme is discussed briefly in the beginning when Landon reflects
upon the death of his small town. The death of Jamie’s mother, the fact that
Landon and his friends hang out in the graveyard at night, and the sickness
that Jamie suffers from are all incidents that highlight the theme of death and
its inevitable existence. In a sense, Landon experiences death himself when he
begins to mature into an adult; his experience is the death of his adolescence.
Jamie’s experience, however, heightens the reality of death and confirms the
fact that we all will die eventually. Although the final death of Jamie is not
described, it is felt in the passing of the 40 years between Landon’s present
day and the memories he recalls.

According
to New Criticism, any approach that interprets literature in terms of its
effects on readers committed the “Affective Fallacy,” a confusion between the
poem and its results, which inevitably led to critical “impressionism and
relativism.” Reader-response approaches treat New Criticism rigidly and pick
out of its theoretical beliefs, a number of doctrines that it then uses to
position itself as a “new” approach to literary study. Among these
foregrounded doctrines is the New Critical rejection of the “Affective
Fallacy.” This rhetorical topic, what a text does to a reader, is what reader-response
criticism has come to use as its main critical project (Mailloux 39-40).

According
to Louise Rosenblatt, a transactional reader-response theorist, both a text and
its reader are necessary in the production of meaning; as a person reads a
text, the text acts as a stimulus to which they respond in their own personal
way. As one continues to read, feelings and memories occur, which influence the
way in which one makes sense of the text (Tyson 173). A Walk to Remember is a book that can be interpreted many ways
depending on who the reader is, but more often than not, can relate to any
reader. Maybe a reader has gone through similar things in their life, and while
reading the book, those memories and feelings are brought back. Or maybe the
reader is starting to experience some of the same things Landon and Jamie go
through at the beginning, and by reading the book, they are able to see what
specific choices and the outcomes of those choices may be. The dialogue is realistic, and the plot
and character development permit the reader to feel empathetic toward the
characters (Dickson). 

“Do unto others as you would have done
unto you.” The golden rule, which everyone knows by heart, is a common phrase
that people say all the time, especially to younger kids, but should always be
at the back of everyone’s mind. Would you want to be judged by someone you do
not know? Hopefully your answer is no, so therefore you should not judge
someone that you do not know. If there is one thing to be learned from A Walk to Remember, it is to not judge
someone before getting to know them. From reading this book, anyone can see
that getting to know someone works out for the better. Landon gets to know
Jamie as a person, realizes she is a great person, and falls in love with her

Should we listen to logic or listen to our
heart? Which makes more sense? Most people will probably say that it makes the
most sense to listen to logic because when you listen to your heart your
emotions get involved and you make poor decisions. In A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks shows us that the best
decisions, that mean the most, are made by listening to our heart. Landon had
been listening to logic for many years and even though he had known Jamie for
years, his “logic” told him Jamie was nothing special. Throughout the book,
Landon moves from someone who thinks to someone who feels. Our minds tend to
cling to the negatives, and Landon’s “logic” told him that no one could be that
good of a person, so therefore his logical mind believed the worst about Jamie.
But, on the other hand, the heart believes the best, and eventually Landon
learns to listen to his heart. From A
Walk to Remember, a reader is able to see Landon’s transition and learns
that the decisions that mean the most are made from listening to the heart.

Nicholas
Sparks is an expert at tugging at a reader’s heartstrings, and without a doubt A Walk to Remember does not fall short
of his emotional tendencies; the story is a heartbreaking yet spiritual love
story. All in all, A Walk to Remember
is a story that can be interpreted in many different ways and is easily
relatable to any reader. The death of Jamie Sullivan changes Landon’s life
forever. Their story, even though there are twists and turns, is unforgettable
and shows that through love and support, anyone can make it through an
obstacle, no matter how big or small. Landon and Jamie were complete opposites,
yet they were able to build a love that was stronger than anything, a true
testament to how powerful love really is. No matter where a person is at in
their life, A Walk to Remember, is a
perfect example of how things can change for the better if that person has
faith in the process.