This section doesn’t start off with a mood display, though it does again start out with John waking up and planning to go out. There is no indication of conflict of any sort, and we assume he has gotten over his heartbreak over Kristi.
He appears also to have established more of a relationship with Mark, and the two of them go off to Wisconsin to see Mark’s grandfather. This is a nice change we see in the way John reacts to spending time with the elderly gentleman, and we can see that he is inspired to spend some time practicing his guitar (panel shows quiet contemplation, a slight smile on the ride home). Indeed, once home, he picks up his guitar and starts putting some time into it.
One of the gang comes by and they decide to go for a ride and he reveals his confusion to his friend about his relationship with Lita. They go see a friend who is depressed over his own breakup with his girl, and during the usual "well…who needs em anyhow?", we see a change in John’s thinking, indicated by a closeup of him in the last panel on the page (placement counts–panels are likely added or scrapped, enlarged or made smaller to get to this point, just as ending a chapter or tv drama before the commercial) with small circle eyes.
His relationship with his mother seems to have improved, despite his longer than ever hair, and he willingly agrees to mow the lawn. Four panels go by with just the rrrr of the mower when we see a sudden flash of insight as indicated by eyes showing beneath the shades, an open mouth, and several lines to indicate something is happening. He realizes that his reaction to life is his own choice.
His new attitude is in place as he and a buddy go to the lake, along with Lita and her friend Anne and another John. When invited to sit in back with the two girls, he does, and his feeling for Lita becomes defined for him (the heart shows before he actually makes up his mind to take the initiative and take her hand. His heart leaves the spot on his chest and moves towards her.
At the lake he gets excited about life, joyfully splashes in the water and decides he wants to live. He’s got a girlfriend. Hah!
While this may sound like the ultimate happy ending, if you think about it, it’s not the best. Why does he feel all his problems have been solved simply by having a girlfriend? Isn’t this the same thing as a woman feeling incomplete without a male counterpart? I’m happy for John that summer turned out well for him, and he realized that how he responds to people and things determines his happiness, but in responding to Lita’s interest in him–I’m not too sure how crazy he was about her, it’s likely he’d dump her in a New York Minute if Kristi showed up on his doorstep–he’s reinforcing his dependence on others for his happiness.
Maybe that’s why there’s a bit more to this story and it doesn’t just end here.