Bridge to Terabithia : Chapter 13
Summary of Chapter Thirteen: Building the Bridge
It is a beautiful spring morning, and Jess milks the cow, then goes to Terabithia. He has to use a branch as a bridge over the roaring stream since the rope is snapped and frayed. He has to leave P. T. the dog on the other bank, but the dog jumps into the water and swims over to Jess. Jess sees the castle the way they left it. He realizes Leslie would have made a ceremony of farewell, but he feels stupid that he does not know how to do the magic without her. Suddenly, he knows he has to make her a funeral wreath. He weaves flowers into the branches and offers it in the grove, using religious language, giving her spirit back to God. This gives him peace.
He hears May Belle calling for help. She has tried to cross over the stream on the branch and become stuck. Though frightened, Jess does not hesitate. He reaches and rescues her from falling into the turbulent stream.
At school, Jess puts his head down on his desk, missing Leslie there. His teacher Mrs. Myers, takes Jess into the hall and tells her how sorry she is. She explains her own grief when her husband died. That day Jess understands how much Leslie has changed him, and he feels it is his duty to give back to others what she gave to him.
The Burkes come to claim the dog, but they tell Jess he can use the lumber around their house. With it he builds a proper bridge over the stream to Terabithia. When it is finished, he leads May Belle over the bridge and introduces her to Terabithia as the new queen.
Commentary on Chapter Thirteen: Building the Bridge
Jess's chance to save his sister May Belle from drowning in the stream helps to ease his guilt about Leslie's death there. It is what he would have liked to do for his friend, but at least he could conquer his fear of drowning to rescue his sister. Jess had thought himself a coward for not wanting to come to Terabithia over the dangerous water. Now, he finds himself a hero. He can believe in himself again.
Leslie has left a legacy. Jess sees that he was a nobody when Leslie came, and she made him a king. She has expanded his world, and his mind. Now, he turns to his sister May Belle, to give the gift to her. The terrible end of the friendship will be transformed into acts of love. Jess has found a way to move on but at the same time, honor Leslie's gift to him.
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, Illustrated by Donna Diamond, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.