Bridge to Terabithia : Chapter 10
Summary of Chapter Ten: The Perfect Day
Jess hears his dad go every day in his pickup truck to try to find work. It is still raining as Jess milks the cow and worries about falling in the creek. He decides to ask Leslie to teach him to swim. As he thinks of how to tell Leslie he does not want to go to Terabithia, he receives a phone call from the music teacher, Miss Edmunds, asking if he would like to go to an art museum in Washington D.C. She tells him to ask his parents. Jess goes into his mother's bedroom and asks her while she is still half asleep. He knows she will not remember, but he wants to go and quickly leaves before she can grasp what he says. This is a big treat, to see an art museum and to be with Miss Edmunds. He has never seen an art museum before, and going into the galleries is as magical for him as Terabithia. He feels some guilt that he might have asked Leslie to come with them, but he likes having Miss Edmunds to himself. After what he calls a perfect day, they drive home. He expects to get scolded by his parents, but they are surprised to see him and begin crying. His sister tells him that Leslie is dead, and they all thought he was dead too.
Commentary on Chapter Ten: The Perfect Day
Jess feels selfish to enjoy his perfect day of viewing great art alone with Miss Edmunds on whom he has a crush. She is singling him out as a talented artist to be her companion in the art museum, understanding that he has the sensitivity to appreciate what he is seeing. Jess has not had the upbringing of Leslie with her money and culture, so he seizes the opportunity. He knows it is cheating not to get a proper parental permission (his mother obviously did not hear where he was going), and not to invite his best friend, Leslie. For once, he enjoys having all the attention. He thinks he will have to pay for this luxury when he gets home, but he did not expect Leslie's death. He is set up for a big load of guilt. If he had asked her along she would not have died.
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, Illustrated by Donna Diamond, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.