Bridge to Terabithia

by

Katherine Paterson

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Bridge to Terabithia: Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
On Easter Monday, the rain starts up again with the same fury it possessed all of March. Jess and Leslie are bored and decide to go to Terabithia in spite of the pouring rain. Leslie pulls on her rain gear and finds boots and a coat for Jess to borrow. As Judy watches them get ready to head out into the weather, she says that she used to love to play in the rain when she was a girl, too.
Jess and Leslie don’t think anything of going to Terabithia in the rain, and Leslie’s mother doesn’t sense any danger either—but the shift in weather portends something is afoot.
Themes
Friendship, Grief, and Loss Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
When Jess and Leslie get to the creek, they stop and look down in awe. The creek bed, usually dry, is now flooded with rushing water. As Jess looks at the rope swing, he gets a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach and suggests they turn back. Leslie, though, is determined to get across. She cradles Prince Terrien in her left arm, grabs the rope with her right, and takes a running start. She lands successfully on the other side and swings the rope back over to Jess. Jess grabs it, steels himself, and swings across, landing clumsily on his bottom.
Though Jess is full of fear when he looks down on the rushing creek, Leslie isn’t intimidated at all. This is the first real difference of opinion they’ve had in their friendship—but Jess is afraid to say anything. He doesn’t want to alienate Leslie or put distance between himself and Terabithia.
Themes
Friendship, Grief, and Loss Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Conformity Theme Icon
Appearances vs. Reality Theme Icon
Jess and Leslie continue to visit Terabithia throughout the week, even as the creek continues to rise and flood the banks on either side of it. Jess continues to feel afraid each time, even though Leslie seems fine. On Wednesday, as the two of them sit in their castle, a flood of rain comes down and soaks them. Leslie says she believes evil forces have put a “curse” on their beloved kingdom. She suggests they go to the pine grove and talk with the spirits. Jess follows Leslie into the pines, playing along as she very seriously addresses the spirits of the realm. Jess shivers in miserable silence, worried that he has lost the magic and is unfit to be king of Terabithia.
Jess’s fear makes him feel different from Leslie for the first time in their friendship. This alienation leads to the belief that he’s somehow unfit for Terabithia. Jess’s home life has taught him that if he expresses any difference or dissent, he’ll be valued less—and he doesn’t want that to happen in his friendship with Leslie.
Themes
Friendship, Grief, and Loss Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Conformity Theme Icon
Fantasy and Escapism Theme Icon
Related Quotes
On Wednesday night, Jess wakes up in the early hours of the morning to the realization that it is still raining. He understands that tomorrow, if Leslie wants to go to Terabithia, he’ll have to tell her he doesn’t want to go. He’s afraid to turn down a trip to their realm and leave Leslie to go alone, but at the same time, he remembers that he went alone while she was busy working on the house a few months ago. He hates that he is afraid to go to Terabithia in the rain—and that no matter how hard the rain falls or how high the creek swells, Leslie will still want to go.
This is, again, the first difference Jess and Leslie have encountered in their friendship. Jess is so determined to keep the magic of Terabithia alive for Leslie—even as it wanes for him—that he develops an acute sense of anxiety about how to tell Leslie the truth (or how to hide it from her).
Themes
Friendship, Grief, and Loss Theme Icon
Individuality vs. Conformity Theme Icon
Fantasy and Escapism Theme Icon
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