Bridge to Terabithia : Chapter 4
Summary of Chapter Four: Rulers of Terabithia
Leslie continues to beat the boys at running. The boys start drifting away to other activities. In music class, Miss Edmunds has the children sing “Free to Be You and Me.” As they sing, he meets Leslie's eyes and understands they are going to be friends. On the school bus she sits beside him and tells about the suburban school in Arlington that she attended with all its wealthy facilities. She had been studying gymnastics there.
He asks why the family moved to the country, and Leslie answers, “My parents are reassessing their value structure” (p. 32). Her parents were too caught up in making money, so they decided to buy and work a farm. This kind of talk is way over Jess's head, because he only knows poverty and his parents' exhaustion from working too hard. Jess explains how they cannot make their farm pay and that is why the father has to go to Washington to work odd jobs.
Leslie is not accepted by the other children. Leslie admits to the class that her family does not have a television. The other kids laugh at this. On the other hand, Leslie's essay is so good that Mrs. Myers reads it to the class. On the school bus, Leslie sits in a section where the school bully, Janice Avery, usually sits. Jess saves her from this mistake, making Leslie sit next to him.
When they get off the bus, Jess and Leslie are friends, and they run away to the woods. May Belle tries to come, but Leslie bribes her with some of her dolls to stay behind. There is a creek that divides the farmland from the woods. An old rope on a tree serves as a way to swing over the creek to the unexplored land beyond. Leslie decides this will be a place just for them, a secret country like Narnia where they will be the rulers. She calls it Terabithia. She gives Jess her Narnia books so he will know how to play fantasy.
Jess's expertise in this kingdom is that he knows how to make things. With boards and nails they built a fortress in the trees. Jess can do his drawings there. Leslie tells him the great stories of literature that she knows, and Jess tries to draw them. Leslie is the friend at school that makes it bearable, and after school they can go to Terabithia.
Commentary on Chapter Four: Rulers of Terabithia
The contrast of Jess's family and Leslie's continues with Jess learning for the first time what a cultured house is like. Jess meets Leslie's parents, whom she calls Bill and Judy instead of Dad and Mom. They are both writers. There is no TV in the house but plenty of records of classical music. Jess is intimidated and feels awkward when Leslie comes to his house, where the manners are a bit more crude. But Leslie is the gateway to Terabithia, and Jess looks forward now to each day.
Leslie names the pine wood near their fortress a sacred place. They can only go there at times of greatest joy or greatest sorrow. Both children believe there are spirits there, but Leslie says they are not evil spirits.
Leslie's personality comes out in this chapter. She is a strong, imaginative person who has read a lot. She tells the great stories like Moby Dick to Jess, and he is inspired to draw. Leslie is not afraid of anything. She tells Jess they will have to do something about the school tyrant, Janice Avery. Janice falls on the school bus and blames Jess, so he is thrown off the bus and has to walk for hours to get to Terabithia. Leslie believes in standing up for principles.
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, Illustrated by Donna Diamond, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.