A Walk to Remember: Chapter 9
The play is a great success, and Landon is congratulated by Eric and Miss Garber; Jamie receives hearty congratulations from everyone also. Landon is happy for her, and she thanks him for what he did, which has made her father very happy.
The following week is the last before Christmas break, and Landon is busy studying for finals. He is disappointed when Jamie shows up in class in her usual old clothes and her hair in a bun. He had been hoping she had changed, but it appears she has not. That afternoon, she asks him to walk her home. During the walk she reminds him that he said he would make it up to her for being rude. She suggests that to do this he could collect the tins and jars that she has distributed to the businesses in town. The businesses place the tins near the cash register to collect money for the orphans. Landon winces because he knows that he and his friends put paper clips and slugs in the tins rather than money. But he agrees to her request.
In one day he picks up twenty of the sixty cans that Jamie placed around town, but he is disappointed to find that the money collected amounts to only twenty dollars. Over the next few days he collects the remaining tins, and the money amounts in total to only $55.73. Landon feels bad about this and does not want to tell Jamie. He knows there is not enough to do anything special for the orphans at Christmas.
The next day he takes the money over to Jamie and lets her count it. She is delighted because there is nearly $247, which is much more than the seventy dollars she collected the previous year. (Landon has boosted the total from his own savings, although he does not tell her that, and he does not even mention it to the reader.)
Jamie buys gifts for the orphans, and on Christmas Eve Landon goes to the orphanage. Jamie is already there, sitting in front of the Christmas tree reading to the children. He notes how attractive Jamie looks, with her hair down and wearing a red sweater. They spend the next hour handing out gifts to the grateful children. Later in the evening, when many of the children have gone back to their rooms, Landon sits on the floor with Jamie and realizes this is the best Christmas Eve he has ever had. He gives her the brown sweater he has bought as a Christmas gift. She gives him a package, and immediately he knows what it is—her Bible. He is speechless. He remembers all the times he has spent with Jamie and realizes that he has fallen in love with her, and he wonders how that happened.
Landon shows major personal growth in this chapter. He has gone from being a boy whose idea of fun is to put slugs in collection tins for orphans to a young man who contributes nearly two hundred dollars of his own money (and remember this is in 1958 dollars; it is the equivalent of much more in today’s money) because he does not want his friend to be disappointed. Also, he finally acknowledges his feelings for Jamie without offering any resistance to them. The build up to this acknowledgement might be thought to err on the side of sentimentality—“Silent Night” plays on Christmas Eve as a contented little girl orphan sleeps in Jamie’s lap—but it is effective nonetheless. Landon appears finally to have overcome his inner conflicts about becoming emotionally involved with a girl who is so different from what he used to imagine a girlfriend of his should be like.