The Last Lecture

Topics: Carnegie Mellon University, Randy Pausch, Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams Pages: 5 (1312 words) Published: October 11, 2012
The Last Lecture
By: Randy Pausch

Table of Contents

Significance of the Title 5

Setting 6

Main Conflict 7

Main Characters 8

The Major Change 9

Truths About Human Nature 10

Quotes from the Book 11

Significance of the Title

The title of the book comes from the concept of a retiring professor’s last lecture, that gives insights into the professor’s life and what really matters to him. This book is based on the inspirational speech Randy Pausch gave on September 18,2007 at Carnegie Mellon University. Randy Pausch was forced to give this untimely and very literal last lecture after being diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. Randy was told he only had months to live at the time that the lecture was given. The purpose of the “Last Lecture” was so that Randy could summarize and pass on his wisdom of how to achieve your dreams for his students. The speech also gave him a chance to dedicate his last lecture and a sense of his life to his three children.


The setting of this story takes place at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania where Randy used to teach a computer science class. There Randy gave his speech titled “Achieving Your Childhood Dreams” in a series of speeches from a variety of other professors titled “The Last Lecture”. Randy gave his speech on September 18,2007 just months after finding out he had just months to live. Another significant setting in this book takes place at Randy’s new house in southern Virginia where he and his wife decided to move their three children so that once Randy passed his wife, Jai, could be closer to her family for support.

Main Conflict
The type of conflict in this story is internal, mostly because Randy has to face the fact he is dying of pancreatic cancer and won’t be able to see his kids grow up. The category of conflict is man vs. himself because Randy has to deal with the troubles of spending his last months with his wife and kids while working to a lecture that his kids will later be able to look at in order to get to know the type of person their father was. The category of conflict is man vs. himself because Randy has to deal with the fact that his children will have grow up without a father and won’t be able to experience all the things normal kids will with their father.

Main Characters
Randy - Was diagnosed with the terminal illness pancreatic cancer, and only had 3 to 6 months left of good health. He was chosen to give a talk at Carnegie Mellon University in a series called “The Last Lecture”. Although Randy was dying he chose to give the speech so that his three young children could have a perspective of who their father was when they get older. Randy died July 25,2008 Jai - Randy’s wife. At first thought that Randy shouldn’t be spending his time writing the lecture but instead spending time with his family, but then changed her mind because she wanted her kids to have some knowledge of what their father was like. Coach Graham - Randy’s football coach when he was younger. He always pushed Randy to do better and to work harder Laura & Chris - Randy’s younger niece and nephew. Before Randy died they were asked by Randy to let his kids know how much he loved them and to take the kids out to do fun things as Randy had once did with them. Sandy Blatt - Randy’s grad school landlord. To Randy he was a terrific non-complainer, despite having been hit by a loading truck and paralyzed from the waist down. Andy Van Dam - Randy’s old computer science teacher at Browns University. He gave Randy wise counsel that changed his life for the better.

Major Change

Before discovering he had pancreatic cancer Randy was...
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