The Last Lecture

The Last Lecture


Randy Pausch

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The Last Lecture: Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Randy wonders what the best way to catalogue his childhood dreams is, and also ponders how to get other people to reconnect with theirs. For four days, Randy sifts through photos as he builds a PowerPoint presentation. He decides the talk will have no text, but it will have pictures to give the audience visuals 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 on not attending the lecture, but Randy asks her to come, so she agrees to fly out the morning of the talk. After celebrating Jai’s birthday a day early, Randy kisses Jai and the kids goodbye and flies to Pittsburgh.
Jai could easily be justified in staying home to take care of the kids during Randy’s lecture (especially considering it’s her birthday), but, given the circumstances, Jai puts on a positive attitude and decides to be there for Randy when he wants (and perhaps needs) her to be.
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Randy is picked up at the airport by Steve Seabolt. They go to lunch at a diner. Steve tells Randy his presentation is too long. They chat with The Pregnant Waitress about Randy’s kids, and Randy remarks that she must be overjoyed about being pregnant. She replies, “Not exactly… It was an accident.” An hour later, back in his hotel room, Randy’s kids remain in his head as he combs the web, still looking for images for the presentation. Though he feels the effects of a recent chemo treatment, he works on the presentation until midnight. He wakes up, keeps 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 office, and edits the slideshow, cutting sixty slides in the hour before the presentation. Finally, he gets ready to go on stage.
Much like the famous story about Martin Luther King Jr. editing his ‘I Have a Dream’ speech until moments before giving it, Randy uses every spare moment before his lecture to edit his presentation, using the obstacle of an approaching deadline as fuel to make difficult cuts. Additionally, Randy sees The Pregnant Waitress’s obstacle (having kids when you didn’t plan on it) as an opportunity to infuse her life with love and new experiences.
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