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Harvard student and hockey player Oliver Barrett IV visits the Radcliffe library and meets music major Jenny Cavilleri, who works in the library to help pay her tuition. Despite the fact that he is from a distinguished Boston family and she is the daughter of a poor Italian baker, they are attracted to each other. After several months together, Jenny tells Oliver that she has received a scholarship to study music in Paris; instead, of pursuing her studies, however, she accepts Oliver's proposal of marriage. Although they receive her father's blessings, Oliver's father threatens to cut him off from the family wealth. Nevertheless, the young couple is married in a simple ceremony. After graduation, Oliver applies for a grant to law school, but the dean refuses to accept Oliver's separation from his father as evidence of his need for the money. To meet the costs of school and rent, they move into a poor section of Boston, and Jenny goes to work as a schoolteacher. When Oliver finally completes law school, they move to New York City, where he enters a prestigious law firm, and they happily begin to plan a family. One day, Oliver is called into the office of Jenny's doctor, who tells him that Jenny is dying. Shocked and heartbroken, Oliver tries to hide the truth until he finds that Jenny already knows; the couple then sadly faces the inevitable prospect of death. Because he needs a great deal of money for medical expenses, Oliver is forced to visit his father and borrow $5,000, although he does not explain the reason for the loan or apologize for not communicating with him. Soon, Jenny is in the hospital and dies in Oliver's arms. As Oliver leaves, his father arrives to console him, but Oliver rejects the reconciliation, walks to Central Park, and there recalls his brief life with Jenny.