The Last Lecture

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The Last Lecture Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
After Randy’s father passes away in 2006, they go through his things. Randy finds many items that make him smile—a picture of his dad with a paper bag, likely a toy he was about to give Randy or his sister. However, Randy finds one item he doesn’t understand—a citation from 1945, when his father was in the army, for “heroic achievement.” Randy learns from the citation that his father risked his life to save the life of a wounded man and give him medical attention. Because of this, Randy’s dad was issued the bronze star of valor. And never once, in Randy’s 45-years of life, did his father mention it. So, weeks after his father’s death, Randy learns another lesson from his father “about the meaning of sacrifice—and the power of humility.”
In some ways, this chapter relates directly to Randy’s writing of this book itself. Just as Randy is able to discover things about his father and learn lessons from him after he is gone, Randy’s kids might be able to become closer to their father and learn lessons from him, through his lecture and this book, long after Randy is dead. This creates a kind of feedback loop of knowledge through books, which could be more broadly used to characterize the way that books circulate throughout generations.
Themes
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon