Chapter 41 Summary

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Laurie spends several weeks in Paris with his grandfather. As he absorbs Amy’s lecture, it affects him in exactly the way she intended. It makes him change his life. However, he is too proud to go back to Nice and see her again right away. Her words were true, but they hurt.

Soon Laurie gets restless and goes to Vienna, Austria. Following Amy’s direction to make something of himself, he attempts to become a composer. First, he tries writing a requiem for his love to Jo, but it is terrible. After that, he tries an opera, but he cannot seem to make Jo come alive as a character. Finally, he decides to compose a piece of music about a different character, a beautiful golden-haired girl he refuses to name even in his own mind. This final attempt turns out a bit better.

In Vienna, Laurie is steeped in the works of the great musicians. Like Amy, he soon realizes that he has talent but not genius. Also like Amy, he decides that he does not want to pursue a goal that he cannot reach. He gives up composing and considers his options for pursuing another kind of work.

During this period, to Laurie’s great surprise, his love for Jo begins to fade. He has long assumed that his broken heart would torment him all his life, but it heals instead. For some time, he resists this, feeling that it is wrong to give up such an important emotion. He tries to convince himself that he still wants to marry Jo, but his feelings for her are becoming brotherly rather than romantic.

After a while, Laurie begins a written correspondence with Amy. They have both heard from her family that Beth is growing sicker, so he tells himself that he needs to comfort her. Amy responds by writing to him twice per week. She never lectures him anymore, but only jokes and tells stories and encourages him.

In Nice, where Amy is still staying, she sees Fred Vaughn again. He asks her to marry him as she expected, but she finds that she cannot accept. Amy does not tell this to Laurie directly in her letters, but she mentions that Fred has come to see her and gone away again. Laurie understands from this that she has refused Fred’s proposal.

When the weather grows hot, Amy goes with her aunt and uncle to Vevay, Switzerland. It is there that she receives the news that Beth has died. Laurie, who is staying in Germany, receives this news just a bit later. When he hears about it, he immediately packs his bags and sets out for Vevay to comfort her. He finds her in the garden of her hotel, grieving. In her sorrow, she looks more beautiful than ever before. They embrace, and in that moment both of them know that their relationship has changed.

Laurie, no longer selfish and lazy, does everything in his power to comfort Amy. They spend a great deal of time talking, boating, and taking walks. Aunt Carrol sees immediately that they are in love. She approves and allows them to spend as much time together as they please. Not long later, on a boat trip, Laurie asks Amy to marry him. She quietly agrees.

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Chapter 40 Summary

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Chapter 42 Summary