The Bridge of San Luis Rey

by

Thornton Wilder

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Pepita is a young orphan who grows up under the guidance of the Abbess. Kind, intelligent, and industrious, Pepita distinguishes herself among her peers, and the Abbess decides that she will inherit her position as steward of the city’s poor, sick, and orphaned. Although the Abbess loves and respects Pepita, in her zeal to prepare her she gives her difficult tasks, like caring for the eccentric Doña María. As a result, Pepita is forced to mature quickly even though she’s only a child. While Doña María initially takes no notice of her young servant, she eventually comes to value Pepita’s moral integrity and selflessness—in fact, Pepita’s good qualities show the older woman how she herself should behave. However, before Doña María has time to reform her character, both mistress and maid die in the bridge collapse.

Pepita Quotes in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The The Bridge of San Luis Rey quotes below are all either spoken by Pepita or refer to Pepita. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Harper Collins edition of The Bridge of San Luis Rey published in 1927.
Part 2: The Marquesa de Montemayor Quotes

She had talked to Pepita as to an equal. Such speech is troubling and wonderful to an intelligent child and Madre María del Pilar had abused it. She had expanded Pepita’s vision of how she should feel and act beyond the measure of her years.

Related Characters: Pepita, The Abbess
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

She had never brought courage to either life or love. Her eyes ransacked her heart. She thought of the amulets and her beads, her drunkenness […] she thought of her daughter. She remembered the long relationship, crowded with the wreckage of exhumed conversations, of fancied slights, of inopportune confidences […].

Related Characters: Doña María, Pepita
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Bridge of San Luis Rey LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Bridge of San Luis Rey PDF

Pepita Character Timeline in The Bridge of San Luis Rey

The timeline below shows where the character Pepita appears in The Bridge of San Luis Rey. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: The Marquesa de Montemayor
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
Finally, Doña María writes that she and her maid, Pepita, are planning on going to the theater to see Perichole perform. Everyone in Lima is... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
That night, Doña María does indeed bring Pepita to the theater. However, in her absent-mindedness she doesn’t pay much attention to the play.... (full context)
Art and Memory Theme Icon
...night; now she’s drunk most of the time, except when she writes her fabulous letters. Pepita wakes up her mistress and tries to make her presentable by dressing her in a... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
It’s Pepita who bears the brunt of Doña María’s eccentricities. She’s an orphan, brought up under the... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
...the nuns around her seem capable or committed enough to take over the abbey. However, Pepita is very bright and kind, so the Abbess decides to groom the girl to be... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Pepita’s life as Doña María’s servant is very difficult. She’s isolated from the other servants, who... (full context)
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
...Rey in her sedan chair and goes up into the beautiful and rustic hills. Leaving Pepita at the hotel, Doña María goes immediately to the church and begins to pray. A... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Pepita prepares their rooms in the hotel and tells the cooks how to make Doña Maria’s... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
When Pepita goes downstairs to look after the dinner, Doña María arrives at the hotel, sees the... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
When Pepita returns, Doña María invites her to share the meal. When Pepita politely declines, the older... (full context)
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...ever before. By the time she finishes, it’s almost dawn. Doña María looks in at Pepita as she sleeps, then prays for the courage to change her ways. Two days later,... (full context)
Part 4: Uncle Pio
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...to “an old lady who was travelling with a little girl,” clearly Doña María and Pepita. Uncle Pio promises Jaime that they will take a rest after crossing the bridge, “but... (full context)
Part 5: Perhaps an Intention
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
...concentrate on those who knew the victims best. The Abbess tells him in detail about Pepita, but not about her hopes for the young girl. The Perichole contradicts the “unsavory testimonies”... (full context)
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
...learn to take satisfaction in what she’s doing now. She wishes that her relationship with Pepita had been one of “disinterested love,” rather than a result of her worry and ambition. (full context)
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
Dogma vs. Altruism Theme Icon
After Doña Clara leaves, the Abbess visits the sick people. Thinking of Esteban and Pepita, she talks to them of people who are left in the dark with no one... (full context)
Acts of God and Individual Will Theme Icon
Love and Obsession Theme Icon
Grief and Loss Theme Icon
...talking, the Abbess reflects that almost no one else on earth even remembers Esteban and Pepita. After she and Camila and Doña Clara die, no one will remember those who died... (full context)