Sunday, 11 March 2012
Bridge to Terabithia
Jesse (a.k.a. Jess) Aarons, the only boy in a family of five children, lives in rural southwest Virginia. His mother favors his sisters Brenda, Ellie, May Belle, and Joyce Ann, while his father works in Washington, D.C., and therefore spends little time with his children. May Belle, the second youngest sister, adores and admires Jesse. Leslie Burke is an only child who moves from Arlington, Virginia, to the same area as Jesse. Her parents, both writers, are wealthy.
Jess and Leslie soon become close friends. Jess shares his secret love of drawing with Leslie, and Leslie shares with Jess her love of fantasy stories. With this new and powerfuling friendship, the two children create an imaginary kingdom in the woods near their homes, accessible only by a rope swing over a creek. They name the kingdom Terabithia and declare themselves King and Queen, and they spend every day after school there. In Terabithia, they are able to face their real-world fears, such as that of the eighth grade bully Janice Avery.
Leslie gives Jess a drawing pad and a set of watercolors and a tube of paint as a Christmas gift, and Jess gives Leslie a dog whom she names Prince Terrien, or "P.T." for short. They consider P.T. to be the royal protector, Prince of Terabithia and, due to his puppyish antics, court jester.
Jesse has a crush on his young music teacher, Miss Edmunds. The central crisis occurs when Jesse accompanies Miss Edmunds to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and Leslie goes to Terabithia alone. The rope breaks as she is swinging over the rain-swollen creek. Though a good swimmer, Leslie falls into the creek and drowns, possibly due to head injury. Jesse can overcome his grief only with the strength and courage that his friendship with Leslie had given him.
He attempts to deal with his grief by going back to Terabithia alone to make a memorial wreath for Leslie. During his ceremony, he hears a cry for help and finds May Belle caught in the midst of a fallen tree that she had been trying to use as a bridge across the creek. He helps her out of danger and rescues her.
Leslie's grief-stricken parents soon decide to leave the area. As Mr. and Mrs. Burke are leaving, Jesse asks to take some of their wooden planks from their back porch. They say he may have anything left in the house; thus permitted, he goes down to Terabithia to build a bridge. After he finishes the bridge, he takes May Belle over it and decides to make her the Princess of Terabithia.
Jesse Oliver Aarons Jr.
- in the beginning of the novel, is habitually fearful, angry and depressed. He also has a crush on his music teacher, which plays an integral role in the final events of the story. After meeting, and then ultimately losing, Leslie, Jesse is transformed, in that he becomes courageous and lets go of his anger and frustration.
Leslie Burke -
An intelligent, talented, imaginative, outgoing girl. Her talents include gymnastics, creativity, swimming, writing and running. Jesse Aarons thinks highly of her, and they are loyal friends. She is not socially accepted by the other students in Jesse's school, to whom she is a newcomer. She is an atheist in the novel, but her religious beliefs are not clearly defined in the 2007 film. She dies when she falls into a creek and gets a very bad head injury.
Joyce Ann Aarons -
Jess' bratty four-year-old sister. May Belle thinks Joyce Ann is "nothing but a baby."
May Belle Aarons - May Belle is one of Jesse's younger sisters. She is described as the only one of Jesse's siblings with whom he feels comfortable. However, because she is six years to Jesse's 10, she does not fit the mold of the ideal confidante to Jesse, leaving him still desperate for companionship. She clearly worships him from the beginning, and like him feels that she does not have a place in the family. She is the first of his sisters to learn about Terabithia, and becomes Princess after Leslie dies. She is the only one Jesse allows to enter his world and the only one who has any sort of empathy for, or acceptance of, Jesse in his family.
Ellie & Brenda Aarons -
Ellie and Brenda Aarons are Jesse's two older sisters. They primarily exist as secondary static characters, or characters who do not grow or change as a result of the events of a story. They are never mentioned separately within the novel and are never portrayed in a positive light. From the beginning of the story, they continually ask for favors from their mother, and pocket money which she cannot afford to give them. With sufficient whining, they know how to get their way with their parents, such as asking for five dollars to pay for school supplies from their mother by saying that their father promised that they could have the money. Being the elder of the two and the eldest child in the family, Ellie develops their ideas. Both have an incredible desire not to have anything to do with Jesse specifically, but with all of their younger siblings more broadly. At the climax of the story, when Jesse learns of Leslie's death, Brenda is the one who tells him of it. The fact that Brenda is the one who breaks the news to Jesse in the novel only serves to increase the shock.
Janice Avery -
The school bully at Lark Creek. Janice is very overweight and tends to become very offended when people tease her for being so. She has a crush on Willard Hughes, which Jesse uses to trick her. Janice's father beats her, and she secretly smokes.
Miss Edmunds -
The somewhat unconventional and controversial music teacher, whom Jesse greatly admires. She invites Jesse to go to the Smithsonian Museum, which leads Leslie to go to Terabithia by herself. As a result, Leslie is alone when she falls from the rope and drowns.
Prince Terrien -
A puppy that Jesse gave Leslie as a present. He is the guardian and court jester of Terabithia.
Gary Fulcher - He and Jesse both hope to be the fastest kid in the fifth grade; he serves as another bully in the story, but he is not quite as mean as Janice Avery.
Mrs. Myers -
Jesse and Leslie's teacher, who is given the nickname "Monster Mouth Myers." She favors Leslie the most out of her class, and says to Jesse when Leslie had passed away that she was the best student she had ever had. Her husband had also died.
Leslie's Parents - Novelists who come to the story's location for purposes of their work. Unlike most of the locals, they do not watch television.
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