Shelfari edited the themes of Bridge to Terabithia Tuesday, October 12, 2010.
- Edited the description of Friendship: Jess and Leslie's friendship is the central theme of Bridge to Terabithia. Their friendship is delightful on a simple level, their childish exploits fraught with amusement and joy. However, we cannot simply call Bridge to Terabithia a monument to the carefree pleasures of childhood, because that would miss one of the main points of the story. The reason that Jess and Leslie's friendship is so magical is because it allows them to rejoice in childhood and to escape the rest of the pressures that bear down on them so heavily in the rest of their lives. Jess, in particular, leads a life full of everyday hardship and dissatisfaction. We sense that before Leslie came along, he was in danger of sinking under the weight of these combined pressures and reluctantly accepting
conformity.Thisis the essential beauty of their friendship: it allows both Leslie and Jess, particularly Jess, to find their true selves. This seems to be Paterson's central point about friendship—that it allows friends to expand, to explore new dimensions of one's character as a result of the other person's pushing one in new directions. For example, Jess's artistic abilities are strengthened by Leslie's imagination, which provides perfect fodder for new and innovative artwork, and Leslie's strength and courage are tested and developed when Jess encourages her to help Janice Avery. Jess discovers in himself an aptitude for invention and creativity; Leslie uncovers a desire for spirituality when Jess brings her to church. Rather counterintuitively, Paterson suggests that individuality is difficult to find on one's own, because then one has no aid in combating societal and other external pressures and forces which would attempt to destroy one's individuality. Rather, in a friendship, one discovers new aspects of oneself and helps the other person to discover new aspects of him/herself as well. This is particularly important in an adolescent friendship such as the one described in Bridge to Terabithia, because those are the formative years, when much of one's adult character is determined. A friendship such as Jess and Leslie share allows the two to become comfortable with themselves, to discover who they really are without worries that what they find will not fit into the "proper"mold. Ultimately, each member of such a friendship is strengthened and developed by the friendship.
- Edited the description of Education: Education is portrayed rather dubiously throughout Bridge to Terabithia. Certainly the area in which Jess lives is not strong on education: the rural area is dirt-poor, with little money to fund a school system, and most of the residents are uneducated as well, farmers by destiny and by trade. Jess has very little exposure to intellectual thirst and curiosity until he meets the Burkes. They are all extremely intelligent and highly educated, a fact that sets Jess reeling at first. Certainly their education forms a crucial difference between them and the rest of the people in the
area.Yetthe dichotomy is not absolute. As Jess gets to know Leslie, he hungrily devours her books and eagerly immerses himself in the imaginary world of Terabithia. He doesn't assimilate her education overnight, but the seeds of intelligence and desire to learn are firmly planted in him, and if he'll never be the erudite that either of Leslie's parents is, the gap between them is not as wide as he imagines. The reader is left wishing that Jess had the opportunity to have the education that Leslie's had, but in the end it isn't really necessary: his cleverness and ambition will take him far in their own right.
- Edited the description of The rope over the creek and the bridge to Terabithia: When they originated the idea of Terabithia, Leslie decreed that the rope swinging over the creek would be a magic rope, the only entrance to the magical land. Jess accepted this decree wholeheartedly, and always felt that Terabithia was not really Terabithia unless one entered by the prescribed method. When the rope snaps, it seems to be a symbol stating that the magic is at an end. The breaking of the rope seems to cement the fate of Terabithia, which really died with the death of its
queen.However,Jess eventually comes to realize that the magic is in him as much as it was in Leslie, and he has the power to resurrect Terabithia. It will be different, completely different, but its soul will remain the same. Jess himself has broken some ties with Terabithia in his newfound maturity. However, May Belle is still a child, and deserves the enchanted childhood only available to her in Terabithia. In building the bridge to Terabithia, Jess affirms that the beauty, wonder, and magic that were so much a part of Leslie did not disappear when she died. Instead, he perpetuates that magic, and in a form more solid and lasting than the rope. Jess's days of absolute, carefree, childish happiness in Terabithia are over, but he passes Leslie's legacy on by building the bridge to Terabithia.