“Don’tjudge 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 knowthem? Even if we don’t want to admit it, we all have judged at least one personin our life so far. With A Walk toRemember, Nicholas Sparks tells a story that has a central theme of notjudging someone before getting to know them. Just like any other story, A Walk to Remember is filled with manydifferent literary devices which includes foreshadowing, symbolism, and irony.
A Walk to Remember is a perfect exampleof the power of love and Nicholas Sparks uses the several different literarydevices to relate to readers. AWalk to Remember tells a love story about two people who are completeopposites of each other: Landon Carter, a seventeen-year-old high school seniorwho belongs to a very high class and elegant family, and Jamie Sullivan, thepastor’s daughter who wears old sweaters & plaid skirts, carries a Biblewith her wherever she goes, and believes that whatever happens in life isaccording to God’s plan. The story is told from the point of view offifty-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 “histype,” but those feelings eventually change after Landon is forced to takeJamie to homecoming and work with her for the town play. After getting to seewhat her life is like outside of school, he realizes he misjudged her.
Landonfalls deeply in love with Jamie, even after she told him he couldn’t fall inlove with her; Jamie also reciprocates those feelings. Later on, Landon findsout Jamie has leukemia and is slowly dying; he realizes that she does not havemuch time left with him, so he proposes and they get married just a few monthsbefore she dies. New Criticism is a literary theorythat replaced biographical-historical criticism and emphasizes the closereading of a text. For New Criticism, the complexity of a text is created bythe many, sometimes conflicting, meanings that are woven throughout it (Tyson138).
These meanings include paradox, irony, ambiguity, and tension. NewCritics believe focusing on the text itself is the only way to interpretliterature because it avoids relying on the author’s intention and the analysisinvolves a close reading of formal elements. Some of the formal elements foundin literature include images, symbols, point of view, plot, andcharacterization. New Critics also focus on the figurative language of a textwhich is used to discover the overall meaning or theme of the text. Examples offigurative language includes image, symbolism, and metaphor. One specific piece of irony presentin A Walk to Remember happens afterwe find out that Landon has fallen in love with Jamie. For the first half ofthe book we are under the impression that Landon finds Jamie weird and has nointerest in her whatsoever. Eventually, we find, after getting to know her andhanging out with her, Landon changes his thoughts about Jamie, and he falls inlove with her.
Jamie had actually told him that in order for her to go tohomecoming with him there was one restriction: he could not fall in love withher. Landon finds that one condition funny, and does not think it will everhappen so he agrees to it; little did he know, he would eventually fall in lovewith her. Tension is present in the story whenthe relationship between Landon and his father is discussed. Worth Carter,Landon’s father, is a friendly, charismatic congressman, but is not around verymuch, 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 becomesvery sick, she refuses to stay at the hospital because she wants to die athome. The Sullivan’s did not have the money to afford at home medical care, butWorth Carter helps to provide Jamie with the best equipment and doctors so shecan spend the rest of her time at home.
Landon later learns that his father iswho was paying for the private home care for Jamie, so he then shows up at hisfather’s door and thanks him before breaking down in tears as his father hugshim; this gesture helped to repair the distance between father and son. Jamie Sullivan’s old copy of theBible serves as a recurring theme that not only characterizes Jamie but alsosuggests one of the underlying themes of the novel: faith in God. Jamie is alwaysseen with her Bible.
She interprets everything that happens to her in terms ofher understanding of God, which is a reason why other students tend to mock herthroughout the story. At Christmas, Jamie gives the Bible, which was once hermother’s, to Landon. The giving of the Bible to Landon is a very significantmoment in the story: her faith is being passed to Landon. This also symbolizesa piece of herself that she gives to Landon, which will be something that hehas for the rest of his life. AWalk to Remember is full of symbolism, obvious or not, that can be observedwhenever being read. One of the most important symbols revealed in the story isactually the title of the book: “A Walk to Remember.
” The “walk to remember” isnot only Jamie’s walk down the aisle to marry Landon, but it is also a metaphorfor the journey we all take in order to give our life meaning. Jamie teachesthis concept not only to the characters in the story, but to the readers of thestory. Jamie’s walk down the aisle, “a walk to remember,” symbolizes herstrength and her love for all the people that were present in her life.
Thefirst piece of foreshadowing comes in the first sentence of the prologue: “WhenI was seventeen, my life changed forever” (Sparks xi). Landon telling us thathis life changed forever prepares us for the profound events that happenthroughout the rest of the story, that he has never forgotten. He alsoforeshadows 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 arollercoaster of emotions, so we, therefore, must be ready to go for a ride.Landonand his friends spend a lot of time at the graveyard, and like to hang outthere late at night; they sit on the tombstones and talk.
But their talks donot include anything related to life and death. One day as Landon is getting toknow Jamie, she asks him what he and his friends do when they go to thegraveyard. She then tells him that if she were to go there she would just sitquietly and appreciate nature.
Landon finds it weird that she asks him aboutthe graveyard. Little did he know that it would have a significance that he wasunaware 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 seriousthoughts.
The presence of the graveyard also foreshadows the theme of deaththat is introduced later on in the book.Dying is a theme that is discussed throughoutthe story. The theme is discussed briefly in the beginning when Landon reflectsupon the death of his small town. The death of Jamie’s mother, the fact thatLandon and his friends hang out in the graveyard at night, and the sicknessthat Jamie suffers from are all incidents that highlight the theme of death andits inevitable existence. In a sense, Landon experiences death himself when hebegins to mature into an adult; his experience is the death of his adolescence.
Jamie’s experience, however, heightens the reality of death and confirms thefact that we all will die eventually. Although the final death of Jamie is notdescribed, it is felt in the passing of the 40 years between Landon’s presentday and the memories he recalls.Accordingto New Criticism, any approach that interprets literature in terms of itseffects on readers committed the “Affective Fallacy,” a confusion between thepoem and its results, which inevitably led to critical “impressionism andrelativism.
” Reader-response approaches treat New Criticism rigidly and pickout of its theoretical beliefs, a number of doctrines that it then uses toposition itself as a “new” approach to literary study. Among theseforegrounded doctrines is the New Critical rejection of the “AffectiveFallacy.” This rhetorical topic, what a text does to a reader, is what reader-responsecriticism has come to use as its main critical project (Mailloux 39-40).Accordingto Louise Rosenblatt, a transactional reader-response theorist, both a text andits reader are necessary in the production of meaning; as a person reads atext, the text acts as a stimulus to which they respond in their own personalway. As one continues to read, feelings and memories occur, which influence theway in which one makes sense of the text (Tyson 173). A Walk to Remember is a book that can be interpreted many waysdepending on who the reader is, but more often than not, can relate to anyreader. Maybe a reader has gone through similar things in their life, and whilereading the book, those memories and feelings are brought back.
Or maybe thereader is starting to experience some of the same things Landon and Jamie gothrough at the beginning, and by reading the book, they are able to see whatspecific choices and the outcomes of those choices may be. The dialogue is realistic, and the plotand character development permit the reader to feel empathetic toward thecharacters (Dickson). “Do unto others as you would have doneunto you.” The golden rule, which everyone knows by heart, is a common phrasethat people say all the time, especially to younger kids, but should always beat the back of everyone’s mind. Would you want to be judged by someone you donot know? Hopefully your answer is no, so therefore you should not judgesomeone that you do not know. If there is one thing to be learned from A Walk to Remember, it is to not judgesomeone before getting to know them.
From reading this book, anyone can seethat getting to know someone works out for the better. Landon gets to knowJamie as a person, realizes she is a great person, and falls in love with herShould we listen to logic or listen to ourheart? Which makes more sense? Most people will probably say that it makes themost sense to listen to logic because when you listen to your heart youremotions get involved and you make poor decisions. In A Walk to Remember, Nicholas Sparks shows us that the bestdecisions, that mean the most, are made by listening to our heart. Landon hadbeen listening to logic for many years and even though he had known Jamie foryears, his “logic” told him Jamie was nothing special. Throughout the book,Landon moves from someone who thinks to someone who feels.
Our minds tend tocling to the negatives, and Landon’s “logic” told him that no one could be thatgood 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 Landonlearns to listen to his heart. From AWalk to Remember, a reader is able to see Landon’s transition and learnsthat the decisions that mean the most are made from listening to the heart.NicholasSparks is an expert at tugging at a reader’s heartstrings, and without a doubt A Walk to Remember does not fall shortof his emotional tendencies; the story is a heartbreaking yet spiritual lovestory. All in all, A Walk to Rememberis a story that can be interpreted in many different ways and is easilyrelatable to any reader.
The death of Jamie Sullivan changes Landon’s lifeforever. Their story, even though there are twists and turns, is unforgettableand shows that through love and support, anyone can make it through anobstacle, 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 truetestament to how powerful love really is.
No matter where a person is at intheir life, A Walk to Remember, is aperfect example of how things can change for the better if that person hasfaith in the process.