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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 713

The Notebook is a love story between Noah and Allie, characters built upon Nicholas Sparks’ wife’s grandparents who were in their eighties and still in love. As the character Noah explains in the beginning of TheNotebook, this is a tragic love story. The tragedy comes in the later years of the characters’ lives, as Allie can no longer remember who Noah is. This is painful for Noah and frightening for Allie. However, the expression of their love is so powerful that even the effects of Alzheimer’s cannot keep every memory of love submerged in the depths of forgetfulness. Doctors cannot explain how every once in a while, Allie suddenly recognizes Noah, even in the later stages of the disease. The nurses at the home, however, are fully aware of how this is so. They see the love in Noah’s eyes, in the way he patiently tends to his wife, even though she sometimes screams at him to leave her alone because he frightens her. She believes Noah is a stranger, at times, and the doctors make Noah leave the room.

The author paints a beautiful picture of the passion that these two characters share as they face the challenges that try to keep them apart. Readers witness Allie and Noah’s wild emotions as they first taste their love as well as the quieter moments in later years when all they have to do is gently grasp one another’s hands to express how deeply they feel about one another.

Another theme in this novel is that of growing old. In the process of aging, great transformations are made. Noah, who was once an athlete with a very strong build, is suffering with old age. His hands are gnarled so badly he can barely turn the pages of the books he reads. He is constantly cold no matter how many clothes he wears and how much heat is pouring into his room. He also has a stroke, so by the end of the novel, he struggles to walk from his room to that of Allie’s. Allie suffers even more. As time passes, she remembers less and less. She has very little idea of who she is, let alone who those other people are who stand around her. She is frightened by this loss of memory and often cries.She also hallucinates, seeing “little people” who threaten her. The love that she and Noah developed through the years is of little help to her, as she has almost no recollection of it.

Memory is also a theme. There is the loss of memory, such as Allie experiences, but also the solace that Noah finds by remembering the details of his past life. Without his memories, Noah would be completely lost. In particular, he relishes the memory of Allie. He has kept the memory of Allie alive, both at the beginning, when he first fell in love with her and then loses her, and at the end, when he no longer can share those memories or his love with her because Allie has forgotten him. It is his memories that keep him alive, that keep him coming back to Allie’s room and patiently encouraging her to remember him.

The theme of the spiritual over the material is also present in this story.The spiritual elements are represented by creativity, as expressed through the poetry that Noah loves to read and the paintings that Allie creates. Both of these characters relish the spiritual elements of life more so than they do money. Allie’s parents, as well as her fiancé Lon, who spends more time at work than he does developing his love for Allie, represent those who favor the material aspects of life over the spiritual. It is insinuated that they believe that love is more a practical affair, one that involves the mind over the heart. Allie’s parents, for instance, believe that social status is a consideration one should make when choosing a life partner. They believe that Allie should get over her emotional attachment to Noah and forget him because he is not good enough, socially and financially, to make a good husband. The author, through the telling of this story, implies that love can conquer all.

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