The Last Lecture

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Randy’s wife, Jai writes the book’s foreword after Randy’s death, and recurs as a figure throughout the book. First she is a “brick wall” Randy has to climb over, then Jai becomes Randy’s wife, the mother of his kids, and finally Randy’s primary caregiver while he has cancer. Jai is a good yin to Randy’s yang—whereas Randy is always a pragmatic scientist, Jai is a warm, strong woman who is a total straight-shooter, but is also in touch with her emotions.

Jai Quotes in The Last Lecture

The The Last Lecture quotes below are all either spoken by Jai or refer to Jai. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Hyperion edition of The Last Lecture published in 2008.
Chapter 18 Quotes

The dents would be OK. My parents had raised me to recognize that automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status. And so I told Jai we didn’t need to do cosmetic repairs. We’d just live with the dents and gashes.

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Jai
Page Number: 88
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs when Randy comes home one day to find that Jai had accidentally run her own car into Randy’s convertible. After inspecting the cars, Randy tells Jai, much to her surprise, that the damage doesn’t warrant repairs. Randy’s parents had taught him that what cars look like is irrelevant—they aren’t meant as status symbols, but as vehicles that get you from point A to point B, which their vehicles could still manage. In Randy’s view, not everything needs to be fixed, and these gashed-up cars become a symbol of Jai and Randy’s marriage, in that it might have some dents, but, when looking at it with a positive attitude, it still works more than well enough. This passage is also evocative of the part of the book where Randy pours a can of coke onto the seat of his new convertible to teach Chris and Laura the lesson that people are more important than things. In both cases, Randy treats damage to his car as being much less important than his relationships to people he loves.

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Chapter 19 Quotes

Through the whole ordeal, I don’t think we ever said to each other: “This isn’t fair.” We just kept going. We recognized that there were things we could do that might help the outcome in positive ways … and we did them. Without saying it in words, our attitude was, “Let’s saddle up and ride.”

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Jai, Dylan
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs after Jai, pregnant with their first child, began to bleed and Randy rushed her to the hospital, where she needed to have an emergency C-section surgery. All through the procedure, Randy held Jai’s hand and kept her from going into shock by calmly explaining whatever the doctor was doing to her. In the end both Dylan and Jai survived, though Dylan, born at seven months, needed to be kept in a special closed basinet.

Through this example, Randy lives out his advice about attitude and positive behavior—rather than getting upset at or flustered by their scary situation, Randy and Jai do whatever they can in the moment to deal with it. They never complain or whine about the unfairness of their situation (which could take their attention away from doing everything possible to make the outcome positive), and instead the two of them focus on the positive steps they can take to make things better, just as Randy does with his battle against cancer.

Chapter 21 Quotes

At Christmas, I had made an adventure out of putting the lights on the tree. Rather than showing Dylan and Logan the proper way to do it—carefully and meticulously—I just let them have at it haphazardly. However they wanted to throw those lights on the tree was fine by me. We got video of the whole chaotic scene, and Jai says it was a “magical moment” that will be one of her favorite memories of our family together.

Related Characters: Randy Pausch (speaker), Jai, Dylan, Logan, Chloe
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

This quote occurs after Randy, on his last New Years eve, has taken his son Dylan to go see the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which turns out to be a melancholy experience; Randy’s son cries on his lap during the movie when the toymaker in the film tells his apprentice that he is going to die. Afterwards, Randy is depressed, so Jai tries to cheer him up by recounting all the happy memories their family experienced over the past year.

Jai highlights this one memory in particular from a week or so earlier, and Jai telling Randy she is so glad they recorded it is, in a way, Jai’s attempt to turn an obstacle into an opportunity. Normally she might have been mad at the messiness, or she might not have recorded it at all, but because of Randy’s impending death, Jai is cognizant of the need to record as many memories with Randy and the kids as possible. Also, Randy allowing his kids to have creative freedom with the lights, rather than having the attitude that it needs to look as professional as possible, turns an often-mundane activity into a fun adventure, which is very similar to how Randy would make normal activities into adventures with his niece and nephew.

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Jai Character Timeline in The Last Lecture

The timeline below shows where the character Jai appears in The Last Lecture. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Foreword
Teaching, Learning, and Feedback Loops Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
The foreword, written by Randy Pausch’s wife Jai after his death, is the only section of the book not written from Randy’s perspective.... (full context)
Chapter 1: An Injured Lion Still Wants to Roar
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Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
...knows the University will let him cancel the lecture. He discusses it with his wife Jai, and she’s wary of Randy giving the lecture. Since the family just moved, and Randy... (full context)
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Randy and Jai can’t come to an agreement, so they go discuss it with their psychotherapist, Dr. Michelle... (full context)
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Randy reflects on why he wants to give this talk so badly—he confesses to Jai that he sees his last lecture “as a vehicle for [him] to ride into” a... (full context)
Chapter 2: My Life in a Laptop
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...and give him prompts for what to say. Although Randy spends time with his kids, Jai still thinks he’s spending too much time working on the lecture. At first, Jai plans... (full context)
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...tinkering, and by 11 A.M. he shapes it into a narrative arc he’s happy about. Jai arrives, joins Randy and Steve for lunch. Randy feels awful again, lies down in his... (full context)
Chapter 4: The Parent Lottery
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...the parent lottery. Randy notes that, although his children will have a wonderful mother in Jai to guide them, he knows they won’t have a father—he’s accepted it, but it still... (full context)
Chapter 10: Winning Big
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...the stage, each carrying a giant stuffed animal he’s won over the years. Randy, knowing Jai wouldn’t need this many stuffed animals after he’s gone, decides that the best thing to... (full context)
Chapter 12: The Park Is Open Until 8 p.m.
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...home to Pittsburgh, Randy’s scans show no cancer, and he slowly regains his strength. Eventually, Jai and Randy fly to Houston for a check-in appointment, treating the trip almost like a... (full context)
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Obstacles as Opportunities Theme Icon
On August 15th, 2007, Jai and Randy arrive at MD Anderson to go over the results of his latest scans... (full context)
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When Dr. Wolff shows up, Randy tells him that Jai and Randy already know the news. Jai is hysterical, and Dr. Wolff sits next to... (full context)
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When leaving the office, Randy remembers what he’d said to Jai the day before at the water park, after riding the speed slide. He’d told her... (full context)
Chapter 16: Romancing the Brick Wall
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...his father to ask for advice on how to scale it. This brick wall is Jai, Randy’s future wife. Randy reiterates that his courtship of Jai epitomizes the idea that “brick... (full context)
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Randy asked to see Jai for drinks after a faculty event, and she agreed. He thought about her during the... (full context)
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Randy says he’d fallen in love with Jai, even if she was still finding her way. They saw each other almost every weekend... (full context)
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So, Randy supported Jai, spending his week teaching and hanging out in his office just up the hall from... (full context)
Chapter 17: Not All Fairy Tales End Smoothly
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Jai and Randy get married on the lawn of a Victorian mansion in Pittsburgh, but rather... (full context)
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The whole time it drops, Randy calculates what direction he and Jai should dive out of the balloon to save themselves. They crash land in the field,... (full context)
Chapter 18: Lucy, I’m Home
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One day, while Randy is out, Jai accidentally crashes her car into Randy’s convertible, leaving both badly dented. She pulls both into... (full context)
Chapter 19: A New Year’s Story
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...to make things worse or better, and Randy learns this profoundly one New Year’s Eve. Jai is seven months pregnant with Dylan, their first child, when she starts bleeding profusely. Randy... (full context)
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They begin Jai’s C-section, and Randy decides to hold Jai’s hand tight and calmly explain everything that the... (full context)
Chapter 21: Jai
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Randy talks a lot about Jai’s character, especially her strength, directness, and honesty. Early in their relationship Jai would tell Randy... (full context)
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Jai handles Randy relatively well, but since he has gotten sick she is learning to let... (full context)
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Later that night, Randy is depressed, and Jai cheers him up by discussing all the wonderful things they’ve done that past year. Jai... (full context)
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Jai goes on websites for cancer patients, but can’t stay for too long because it depresses... (full context)
Chapter 23: I’m On My Honeymoon, But If You Need Me…
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When Jai sends Randy to buy groceries, he uses a self-scan machine. It malfunctions, and he accidentally... (full context)
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...that it’s not a real vacation if you’re reading emails or taking work messages. When Jai and Randy went on their honeymoon, his boss felt that people needed a way to... (full context)
Chapter 55: All You Have to Do Is Ask
Dreams in Reality Theme Icon
Attitude and Positive Behavior Theme Icon
...was the one who invited Randy to do the guest lecture during which he met Jai. Now that Randy is sick, he always asks if he can get his medical results... (full context)
Chapter 56: Make a Decision: Tigger or Eeyore
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...clearly in the Tigger camp. For Randy’s last Halloween, he decided to have fun, with Jai, the kids and Randy all dressing as The Incredibles. On his website, Randy posted the... (full context)
Chapter 58: The Input of Others
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...to each of them, giving them specific stuff they can grasp. Dr. Reiss, Randy and Jai’s marriage counselor, has also helped Randy to focus on his family and maintain a positive... (full context)
Chapter 59: Dreams for My Children
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...come to love them, but he fears it will go over their heads. Randy and Jai have yet to tell the kids that Randy is dying because Randy still looks healthy.... (full context)
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...first man ever to fall in love with her. Randy knows there will be much Jai will be able to tell his kids about their father when they’re older—his optimism, his... (full context)
Chapter 60: Jai and Me
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...often get pushed to the sidelines. So, during his Last Lecture, Randy wanted to show Jai, and everyone else, how much he loves and appreciates her. During the part of his... (full context)
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...with the “proverbial bus” because it has given him time to have vital conversations with Jai that wouldn’t have been possible if he’d died suddenly. Randy tries to remind Jai that... (full context)
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...The good news, though, is that friends and family will want to help out, and Jai plans on letting them. Just as Randy’s dad signed him up for football, Jai will... (full context)
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Sometimes, Jai tells Randy things he doesn’t know how to respond to—like that she can’t imagine Randy... (full context)