The novel and movie tells the story of Oliver Barrett, IV, a wealthy and well-respected Harvard University student who meets and falls in love with Jennifer Cavilleri, a working-class, quick-witted Radcliffe College student. Upon graduation from college, the two decide to marry against the wishes of Oliver's father, who thereafter severs ties with his son.
Lacking his father's financial support, the couple struggles to pay Oliver's way through Harvard Law School. Graduating third in his class, Oliver takes a position at a respectable New York law firm, while Jennifer teaches at a private school.
With Oliver's income and Jennifer's salary as a teacher, the pair of 24-year-olds decide to have a child. Oliver discovers that Jennifer has leukemia and will die soon when they seek consultation after they can't conceive.
Oliver attempts to live a "normal life" without telling Jennifer of her condition. Jennifer finds out anyway . . . With their days together numbered, Jennifer begins costly cancer therapy, and Oliver soon becomes unable to afford the piling hospital expenses. Desperate, he seeks financial relief from his father, without telling his father what the money is truly for, Oliver leads him believe that he needs it because he has had an affair which led to a pregnancy.
From her hospital bed, Jennifer speaks with her father about funeral arrangements, tells him to avoid blaming himself, and asks him to embrace her tightly and then asks for Oliver before she dies.
There is a double meaning of a love story between Oliver and his father. It isn't until after Jennifer dies that Mr. Barrett realizes that she was ill and that the money was for her. When Oliver runs into his father walking outside of the hospital he tells him that Jennifer has died. Mr. Barrett genuinely tells his son that he is sorry. Oliver replies with something Jenny had told him, with tears in his eyes, "Love means never having to say you're sorry."
This is one of my favorite movies of all time and I have always used this story to set the bar of love . . . true, unconditional love that lives forever. I thank God that he blessed me with the gift of living a real love story . . .
It is one of those movies that made a big impression on my life. The first time I saw the movie, I was in awe of the love they had for each other and happy they were together and at the same time, it made me so sad that their life together was cut so short. I remember thinking that they were so cheated. But were they really cheated?
Today I have been thinking of how that kind of love is very rare in these days. Since JR died, I have seen this movie again several times and each time I get a new meaning from it. There are times that I feel I was cheated from a full lifetime of love with my soul mate, but on the other hand I was blessed with that kind of love to begin with.
Oliver and Jenny were blessed with a beautiful love . . . just as I was . . . at a different time of my life this movie is happy rather than sad to me.