Rehearsals for the play begin; the performance is in three weeks. Jamie already knows her own lines, as well as those of everyone else in the play. Landon soon realizes that this is going to be hard work. His friends are already teasing him about it, and he starts to resent Jamie for pushing him into it. He makes little effort to learn his lines.
About a week after rehearsals begin, Landon is hanging out one evening with Eric a
nd Margaret outside a diner. They see Jamie approaching, carrying her Bible, and Eric and Margaret tease Landon about it. Jamie comes up to them, and after a few moments of pleasantries, she thanks Landon for volunteering to take the part, and offers to help him learn his lines. Landon replies that he will learn the lines by himself at home. Then Eric suggests, jokingly, that they should practice their lines in front of the children at the orphanage where Jamie is a regular visitor. He pretends this was Landon’s idea. Jamie loves the idea, and once again Landon does not have the heart to say no.
After this Landon starts to make some real effort in learning his lines, all the time wondering how he got into this position.
The psychological dynamic here is much the same as in earlier chapters. Landon’s friends embarrass him because of his association with Jamie; he denies involvement with her, yet he gets pulled into doing something with her that he doesn’t want to do because he cannot say no. Just as in the previous chapter, when he agreed to take a role in the play at her request, now he cannot refuse another request she makes.
Something keeps pulling Landon in to make him spend more time with Jamie, seemingly against his will. Again, there are two sides to his nature in conflict here: the immature prankster who mocks Jamie behind her back, and the intelligent, sensitive boy who has some ability to take note and respond to what another person is feeling. He does not like to hurt Jamie’s feelings or disappoint her.
There is also the matter of peer pressure. Landon perhaps feels that he has a certain image to uphold, in keeping with the attitudes of the boys he likes to hang out with. But his better nature is beginning to assert itself. Escaping from peer pressure and being more true to the person he really is will be part of his development as the novel proceeds.