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"Where the Heart Is": The Pain of Regret

Where the Heart Is tells the story of Novalee, a pregnant teen, abandoned in a Wal-Mart by her boyfriend. She finds herself on her own, but tries to make a good life for her baby daughter. In contrast, her boyfriend, Willy Jack, continuously makes irresponsible and destructive choices.

After finding out Willy Jack was involved in a terrible accident, Novalee visits him in the hospital. Novalee steps hesitantly into the room where a sullen and withdrawn Willy Jack is lying in bed. He is surprised to see her.

"How did you know I was here?" he asks.

"Story in the paper."

Willy Jack says, "I was coming to see you."

Novalee doesn't believe him. She says in an accusing tone, "Why? What were you going to do, Willie Jack? Come back to the Wal Mart? Think I was still going to be there, waiting for you, five years later?"

Looking humbled and uncertain, Willy Jack answers, "No."

"I gave birth at a Wal-Mart."

"Was it a boy? Was it a girl? Is it all right?" When Novalee doesn't answer, Willy Jack asks in an exasperated tone, "Does it have a name?"

Novalee responds, "Yes. It's a girl. Her name's Americus. And she's mine. You stay away from her."

Willie pulls away his blanket, revealing two covered stumps. His legs had been severed at the knees in the accident.

"Stay away from her?” he says angrily. “I can't even get out of this bed, Novalee. What am I going to do? Run away with her?"

"You think I'm going to feel sorry for you?"

Willie sarcastically responds, "I'll just get new legs, a new liver. That's all."

"Then why did you come here? Why come after us?"

A nurse walks in, having heard the raised voices, makes sure everything is okay, and leaves.

Willy Jack pulls the blanket back over himself and says in a quiet, reserved tone, "I came back to tell you something. You remember that last day we were together? You put my hand on your belly. You asked me if I could feel the baby's heart. I said no. I…I lied."


"Why does anyone lie? We're scared, or crazy, or just mean. There's a million reasons to lie, Novalee. Sometimes you tell lies so big, it changes your whole life. So big, it makes you think, I'd do anything if I could have one chance to set it straight. Just one chance to change it. You don't know what I mean."

Novalee, in a reflective expression, says, "Yeah, I do."

Elapsed Time: 01:46:30 to 01:49:42

Rated PG 13 for language and sexual content. (Warning: A few seconds before this clip there is a mild "Oh my God.")

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