Westmoreland County Community College
Dear John by Nicholas Sparks uses two main characters, John’s father and Tim’s brother Alan, to express the symptoms and complications of the psychological disorder Asperger Syndrome. This disorder is considered a form of autism. People with this disorder will be passionate about one or more topics, but will struggle with daily tasks. The novel provides an extended metaphor through John’s father through his obsessive interest in his coin collection, and is difficulty in forming a relationship and communicating with his son as he attempts to raise him on his own. Evidence from his routine schedule and his trouble in controlling feelings is compared to Savannah’s friend Alan, a boy actually diagnosed with the disorder as a child. Savannah uses her knowledge from her studies in college and experience with Alan to diagnose John’s father, and help him understand why he has acted this way through John’s entire life.
Your Dad Loves You, I Can Tell, Even If You Can’t
Nicholas Sparks incorporates psychological concepts of Autism and Asperger Syndrome that reveal evidence of their symptoms in one of his best selling love stories, the novel, Dear John. When John was a still a child, he picked up a coin one day and noticed a defect. He quickly showed it to his only family, his father, who became infatuated with it. They took it to get looked at by a professional who explained to them that John had luckily stumbled upon a rare and value Jefferson Mule. Sometimes accidently a penny impresses into a nickel, and producing this surprisingly valuable error coin. When John was still young he enjoyed the conversations over coins with his dad, but eventually as he got older, he grew tired of his father’s obsession. And, he found that without coins, there wasn’t much to talk about.
Mr. Tyree attempted to raise John on his own, but he never really kept track of where John went all the time, or what time he was home, so John seemed to get himself into some trouble as a teenager before joining the army. However, his father had his routines that he always kept up with. He always made a certain food according to the day of the week, and Sunday was lasagna. But every night after dinner, his dad would leave the door to his room containing his coin collection cracked open, and never said a word to John after that. When John left for the army, his dad always shook his hand, and walked away quickly without a hug.
After two years in the army, John is back at Wilmington beach for a two week leave. John first encounters Savannah on the boardwalk, and shows great courtesy by rescuing her purse from the ocean. She is at the beach for the summer volunteering, but intends on going off to college. After a few days together, their relationship quickly progresses into intimacy, since his leave is short. John only has one year of service before he can be honorably discharged, so Savannah demands to meet the man who raised him, his father. He warns her that she won’t get much out of him, but is surprised how she talks for hours with him asking questions about his coin collection (Sparks, 2006). Savannah claims that he shouldn’t be so hard on his dad, and that he has done really well for himself for being in that condition. She hands John a book on autism, and claims that his father’s behavior shows symptoms of Asperger Syndrome. Her friend Tim has a brother named Alan who was diagnosed with the condition and claims she has had experience looking after him. John is angry with her at first for studying her father, but understands that she was trying to help. He returns to the military promising to come back and marry her after. The two keep in touch through letters, but the war on terrorism begins, and he is persuaded to extend.
Eventually, the letters stopped, and years later he returns on a forty-eight hour leave for his father’s...