An Analysis of a Main Character’s Motivation in Nicholas Sparks’ Novel Entitled “A Walk To Remember”

An Analysis of a Main Character’s Motivation in Nicholas Sparks’ Novel Entitled “A Walk To Remember”

Zaenal Abidin,S.S.,M.Pd


The research and analysis are to understand the main character’s motivation in A Walk To Remember novel. In order to understand the main character in the novel, the writer tries to formulate these problem formulation into two questions which are (1) What is the kind of character and characterization of Jamie Sullivan as the main character in A Walk To Remember? (2) What is the motivation of the main character to survive against her cancer?. In analyzing and conducting research, the writer uses the psychological approach. The writer also does library research to find the data. Regarding the types of character, the writer finds the references and some theories to support research and analyzes. The writer applies the theory of major characters from Subhan, and the theory of motivation from Ryan&Deci. Based on the supporting theories that is applied by the writer in the research and analyzes of the character Jamie Sullivan, the writer finds that Jamie is the protagonist. Ryan&Deci divided motivation into two that are Intrinsic motivation and Extrinsic motivation. When analyzes Jamie’s characters, the writer conclude that Jamie is a kind girl and humble, always help others and different with other people, she never hang out, never has a boyfriend, and she is beautiful. Her motivation in intrinsic motivation is her love to her father and Landon. And from extrinsic motivation is Landon’s love and her father for her that makes her survive against her cancer. The application of Ryan&Deci theory of motivation is very support the writer in analyzing the motivation of Jamie towards her cancer. The writer finds a lot of interesting things when analyzes this novel. The novel teaches us how important to find the right person to accompany us in the whole life.


One of the element’s of the novel is character. According to Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms (1999.p.190): Characters are the persons represented in a dramatic or narrative work, who are interpreted by the reader as being endowed with particular moral, intellectual, and emotional qualities by inferences from what the persons say and their distinctive ways of saying it – the dialogue – and from what they do – the action. In the writer opinion, a character is a figure that described the writer’s imagination in his narrative works, it can be a great figure or can be a bad figure. Each narrative work has so many types of  character in his book, mostly major character and minor character, the distinction between good people or bad people or between heroes and villain, but the most important character is the major one as the central of the story.

Author of the book will show us directly about their action, motivation and passion, but the readers will be based on their thought. The writer describes character’s motivation differently depend on the story. Each character in the story has different motivation, such as get money, get love, get friends, get happiness, get job. Those motivations can make the story more interesting to read. Motivation according to Abrams in A Glossary of Literary Terms (1999.p.33): The grounds in the characters’ temperament, desires and moral nature for their speech and actions are called motivation. Motivation according to the author opinion is a character desires into something. It can be desire to love, money, woman, position etc. Some people who are forced by the economic such as poor and hungry has motivation to get money to buy some food. The people who are looking for happiness, their motivation is to get happiness.

The novel A Walk To Remember has the great main character that has motivation towards her cancer. Jamie Sullivan as the main character is the town’s Baptist Minister’s daughter, she is a shy girl who always carried a bible all day. She is a kind girl with soft heart, she rescues the animal that got hurt, she helps out the local orphanage and she is deeply spiritual girl. She never hang’s out with boys or even has a date with boys. She is someone whom Landon as the popular boy at her school never really notices or understands. But Jamie becomes true love for Landon. This novel is telling us about how to find the right person that would give the pure love, about life and hope. It will remind us about what will be going to happen to us in the future. Based on those problems above, the author would like to study about the character and her motivation especially the main character Jamie Sullivan so, the author takes the title of the thesis, an Analysis of a Main Character’s Motivation in Nicholas Sparks’ Novel Entitled “A Walk To Remember”

Theoretical Review

According to Too (1990.p.45) character is the imaginary person that the author creates and can be classified as major and minor character. Major character is an important figure at the center of the story’s action or theme whereas minor is the character which support the major character and to illuminate them. According to Subhan (2003.p.8-12) The major characters can be analyzed into three groups which are protagonist, antagonist and companion or partner. The protagonist in a novel can usually be identified by (1) his/her position in the story; (2)his/her frequent appearance in the story; (3) the title of the novel. The antagonist, in a novel usually refers to the enemy or the challenger of the protagonist. While the companion or partner, in a novel, the protagonist usually has a companion or a partner in pursuing his duty, career, struggle, or aspiration.

Based on the opinion about the characters above, the writer has a conclusion that characters is human being in the literary works that is created by the writer based on their imagination, it does not represent the actual person of the writer. The characters do something base on their characteristics in the novel. Each characters has different personality, even when they are siblings they have different characteristics, that makes the story becomes interesting to read.

According to Abrams (1999.p.33), the grounds in the characters temperament, desires, and moral nature for their speech and actions are called their motivation. According to Ryan&Deci (2000,p54), motivation is to be motivated means to be moved to do something. A person who feels no impetus or inspiration to act is thus characterized as unmotivated, whereas someone who is energized or activated toward an end is considered motivated. Ryan&Deci (2000,p54-67) has also classified the different types motivations based on the different reasons or goals that give rise to an action. That types is intrinsic motivation, which refers to doing something because it is inherently interesting or enjoyable, and Extrinsic motivation which refers to doing something because it leads to a separable outcome.  Here are the explanation about Intrinsic motivation and Extrinsic motivation according to Ryan and Deci:

  1. Intrinsic motivation

Intrinsic motivation is defined as the doing of an activity for its inherent satisfactions rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge entailed rather than because of externals prods, pressures, or rewards. Intrinsic motivation is someone interest to do something and do the activities base on their interest. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside the person that energizes behavior such as interest, curiosity, eagerness. This motivation makes the person feel enjoyable to do. For example Jamie likes to play drama, and she joins with drama club in her school and play a role in the drama. She does it because she is interested in drama.

  1. Extrinsic motivation

Extrinsic motivation is a construction that pertains whenever an activity is done in order to attain some separable outcome. Extrinsic motivation thus contrasts with intrinsic motivation, which refers to doing an activity simply for the enjoyment of the activity itself, rather than its instrumental value. Extrinsic motivation is the activity outside the person to achieve something, to gain a reward or to get a good goal. For example a worker in a company with a small salary will works harder to get a good position and a good salary, his goal is to get a promotion to a better position and then of course he will get a better salary.

Based on the theory about motivation, the author has concludes that motivation is the key of character to change their life. How is their behavior before and after they have motivation to make the situation much better than before. In this novel the major character’s motivation is love. Landon tries harder to get Jamie’s love and finally he get it. Landon’s love to Jamie gave him motivation to make Jamie wish list come true such as getting married. Landon became a better person because he got love from Jamie, and that love became motivation for Jamie to against her cancer, and married with Landon.


In this study, the writer is interested to analyze the main character of the novel, some questions that makes the writer curious are:

  1. What is the kind of character and characterization of Jamie Sullivan as the main character in A Walk to Remember Novel?
  2. What is the motivation of the main character to survive against her cancer?


In writing the thesis the writer uses objective approach when analyzing the character in the novel. The objective approach usually called the intrinsic approach because it studies the literary work intrinsically by analyzing the elements of the literary work. The writer use psychological approach when analyzing the character. This approach will look at the psychological motivations of the characters. When analyzing character, kind of character, the writer will use the theory from Subhan. The writer will also use the theory from Ryan and Deci to analyzes the motivation.

The object of the study is is a novel written by Nicholas Sparks entitled A WALK TO REMEMBER. This is a romantic novel. The novel consists of 13 chapter and 94 pages. This novel is published in United States October 1999 and publisher is Warner Books. This novel is a fictional novel, but some parts of the novel is based on the real story. The novel is inspired by Nicholas Sparks sister named Danielle Sparks Lewis, she later died in June 2000 because of cancer. His sister husband proposed marriage Danielle sparks when she was sick. Their love inspired Nicholas to write the story about them as a gift for her sister but not all the story is the same like Danielle. The setting in novel is around 1950’s meanwhile Danielle live in 1990’s and she died in June 2000.

Findings and Discussion

Novel A Walk to Remember is written by Nicholas Sparks and inspired by his sister Danielle Sparks. Danielle had Leukemia and when she was dying her boyfriend is asking her to married. Nicholas love’s Danielle so much. He writes this novel as present for Danielle. That’s why he creates character Jamie the same like Danielle. She was a kind girl, humble, wise and always tried to save others people. Her character is major character and a protagonist.

  1. Character

The protagonist is the very central character or the leading actor or actress. Subhan (2003.p.8) said that the protagonist usually the hero that plays an important role in the story. The hero is usually a good man with good characteristics. She is a woman who struggle with Leukemia. She is a good girl and always tried to help others. She love’s the orphanage and she usually spends some time with them. Her characteristics is round character. The writer tries to find out the evidence with analyzed the requirements according to Subhan states as below:

The position of character in the story

Jamie Sullivan is the most important character in the story. She is nice, kind, smart, humble, warmth, and cheerful. She is a senior in high school and already chooses to play the angel in Christmas drama. Most people includes Landon think that Jamie is not attractive girl, but when Landon gets close with Jamie, he realizes that he is wrong. Jamie has inner beauty which not every woman has it. Jamie is a cheerful woman but sometimes she also can feel sad. Jamie never said a bad thing about people. And she always helps others, no matter what she will help others without condition.

The frequent appearance in the story

Jamie appears in each chapter more than one hundred times in the novel. Landon also appears in each chapter because this story is told by him. Meanwhile reverend Sullivan appears in each chapter and more than one hundred times. The others characters is a minor characters. They only appear in some chapter. Based on the frequent appearances of the character in the novel, Jamie appears mostly as a major character and the protagonist.

The title of the novel

Title of this novel is A Walk To Remember. This novel tells the story about a seventeen years old woman named Jamie Sullivan, who had leukemia but she falls in love into a boy named Landon Carter. The story is settled in Beaufort, North Carolina, and set in 1958-59. The personality of this two teenagers is different, but they love each other. Landon always walks Jamie home.

I know that no more that ten or twelve seconds elapsed, but it seemed much longer, and finally she nodded slightly. With that Jamie and Hegbert started moving again, and I felt my heart surge with pride. It was, I remembered thinking, the most difficult walk anyone ever had to make. In every way, a walk to remember. (Chapter 13 page 93)

A walk to remember is taken from Landon’s memory when he walked with Jamie home, and the last time he saw Jamie walked is in their wedding. For Landon that is the last walk and is a walk to remember.

The character of Jamie is a round character. Subhan (2003:8) says that a round character is one which undergoes changes in the characterization in the course of the story. The characters in the beginning of the story will changes in the end of the story. For example in the beginning of the story Jamie is unattractive girl, but in the end of the story she became an attractive girl.  At the beginning Jamie is a girl who always wears the same sweater, no make up, always wear her hair in a tight bun, the appearances seems not interesting to see.

For as long as I’d known her-and this was going way back, remembershe’d always worn her hair in a tight bun, almost like a spinster, without a stitch of make up on her face. Coupled with her usual brown cardigan and plaid skirt, she always looked as though she were on her way to interview for a job at the library. (Chapter 1 page 9)

She also never changes the way she acts. She never hangs out at Cecil’s Diner, or go to party. She is different with other girls in Beaufort. She is not popular between boys in her school or even in their neighborhood, that’s why she never had a boyfriend.

But then she changes, she come to dance party with Landon. Before party she never dances, but at the party she learns to dance. It looks like she is a pretty good dancer. Jamie only follow Landon’s step when they dance, but she dances pretty good. Landon thinks that Jamie is a good dancer for someone who never dances at all.

Once the music started we hit the floor, and it turned out that she was a pretty good dancer, considering it was her first time and all. (Chapter 3 page 22)

When she plays drama as an Angel, Jamie looks beautiful, she exactly looks like an angel. She uses a little make up, she changes her hair no tight bun and uses white dress. She looks totally different with the way she usually was. Landon fells surprised to see her. Jamie looks beautiful. And he starts to fall in love to her.

  1. Characterization

Jamie Sullivan is the main character in the novel. Novel A Walk to Remember have some charateristics for example Landon Carter as Jamie boyfriend and husband, Hegbert Sullivan as Jamie’s father, and Jamie Sullivan who had Leukemia. But the writer only focus on Jamie to analyzes the characters. In this thesis the writer only focuses on Jamie in analyzes as the protagonist through Kenney theory. According Kenney the characteristics is divided into:

  1. Discursive methods

Discursive method is the author of the literary work shows the character directly to the readers such as, (1) Jamie has a blond hair and blue eyes; (2) She loves the church; (3) She is a seventeen year old woman and a senior in high school

  1. The Dramatic method

The dramatic method is characters will introduce themselves to us through their own words and actions, such as, (1) Jamie loves to help others; (2) She can make the situation cheerfully; (3) She has a good memory; (4) She is not a dimwit; (5) She is a wonderful person and has a wonderful life; (6) She had Leukemia and she was dying

  1. The Contextual method

The author of the literary work will also explain the characters through the verbal context that surrounds the characters such as, (1) She is sweet and cute; (2) She tries to dance; (3)She is like an Angel; (4) She collects money for the orphan.

  1. Mixing methods

The author uses the combination of some methods to show their characters. It is rarely to find a narrative work that only uses one method to explain the characters. Mostly they use the mixing methods.The author of the novel uses contextual method, dramatic method and contextual method to characterize the characters. Based the explanation above, the writer concludes that the author of the novel uses mixing method to characterize the characters.

  1. Motivation

Jamie is a seventeen years old woman who has leukemia. Her hope for life only around a year, the Doctor said that her life is only a year maybe less. And since she is diagnosed it is seven moths already passed. She does not know how long she had left, and there is not anything the doctors could do.

Yes, when the school year had started, she’d feel fine. It wasn’t until the last few weeks that she’d started to feel it effects. “That’s how it progresses,” she said. “You feel fine, and then, when your body can’t keep fighting, you don’t.” (Chapter 12 page 77)

At that time they cannot treat her, they believe that only a miracle could save her. Landon is shocked when he hears about that. He wants to deny but that is the truth about Jamie, she is dying. All night long Landon cannot sleep at that night, he wishes that the whole thing was only a nightmare. Jamie does not tell everyone about her sickness, and that makes Landon a little angry.

Landon asks Jamie whether she regrets it. But Jamie said that everyone regrets but she does not regret her life because she has her father and Landon that always loves her. Their love is becomes her motivation to against her cancer.

“But other than that, I’ve been happy Landon. I really have. I’ve had a special father who taught me about God. I can look back and know that I couldn’t have tried to help other people any more than I did.” She paused and met my eyes. “I’ve even fallen in love and had someone love my back.” (Chapter 12 page 87)

The writer will try to distinguish her motivation between Intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation using the theory from Ryan&Deci as follow:

  1. Intrinsic Motivation

Intrinsic motivation is someone interest to do something and do the activities based on their interest. Intrinsic motivation comes from inside the person that energizes behavior such as interest, curiosity, eagerness. This motivation is makes the person feel enjoyable to do.  Intrinsic motivation for Jamie to survive against her cancer is her love for Landon and for her Father. She loves them very much. She wants to heal, wants to get married, want to spend more time with her father. And her love to them is her motivation to resist her diseased.

“I know that challenges are always part of the Lord’s plan, but I don’t want to believe that the Lord is cruel, especially to someone like my father. He devotes his life to God, he gives to the community. And he’s already lost his wife and has had to raise me on his own. And I love him so much for it….”(Chapter 4 page 31)

  1. Extrinsic Motivation

Extrinsic motivation is the activity outside the person to achieve something, to gain a reward or to get a good goal.  Jamie also receives a lot love from Landon and from her father. That is the extrinsic motivation for her to heal. For Landon Jamie is everything also for her father. They always stay with Jamie and always there when Jamie needs them. Their loves is everything for her.

Landon loves Jamie so much. She is more than a woman for him. Jamie helps Landon to become Landon at that time. She shows Landon about the importance to help others. Her cheerfulness and optimism, even in time her sickness is the most amazing he ever had.

“I love you, Jamie,” I said again, but this time she wasn’t frightened. Instead our eyes met across the table, and I watched as hers began to shine. She signed and looked away, running her hand through her hair, then turned to me again. I kissed her hand, smiling in return. “I love you, too,” she finally whispered. (Chapter 12 page 83)

According to analysis above, the answer to the second question is Jamie motivation towards her cancer is the love from Landon, her father and from everyone that loves her. Jamie can spend her life with happiness when she is sick. She gives love to everyone and then finally she receives a lot of love when she is dying, especially from Landon who loves her for the rest of his life. Love is the most powerful medicine for her deceased.


Jamie Sullivan is the central character in this novel. Although the novel is told by other people, but Jamie appears in every chapter. She dominates the story in the novel. Jamie is a shy girl, kind, wise and humble. Based on the characteristics above, the writer concludes that she is a protagonist. For characterization, the author of the novel explains Jamie’s characteristics using discursive methods, dramatic methods and contextual methods.

In a narrative works, the character is one of the important parts. Especially a novel, if the novel not have a great character then that novel will not be interested to read. Beside story, characters make the readers interesting to read a novel. For example novel A Walk To Remember that the writer chooses to analyzes. Most of the story is inspired by the author’s sister Danielle Sparks who has Leukemia, so it is based on true story. Readers are interested to read this novel because the characters is true, Jamie is Danielle sparks in real life.


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