Bridge to Terabithia : Chapter 7
Summary of Chapter Seven: The Golden Room
When Mr. Burke begins to fix up the old Perkins house, he wants Leslie with him, because she is helpful. Jess finds he cannot go to Terabithia alone, for it takes Leslie to make the magic. At home, Jess is nagged by mother and sisters, so he sometimes goes to the Perkins house to find the dog, Prince Terrien, crying on the porch. He plays with the dog while Leslie is helping her father to paint and redecorate the house. Jess resents Leslie's father. Leslie scolds him for disliking her father. He could come to the house and offer to help them.
Jess is amazed by this simple solution and invitation. Jess is handy, and Bill, the father, begins to like Jess when he lends his skill. The whole family has fun together, putting up wallpaper to classical music or singing together. Sometimes Judy, the mother, reads poetry aloud to them. They paint the living room gold, and it is beautiful when the evening sun hits it.
When Jess and Leslie return to Terabithia, she makes up the story that they have been away conquering hostile natives. They pick up sticks that become swords. They have imaginary battles and win.
At school, Leslie finds Janice Avery crying in the bathroom. She learns that Janice is aggressive because at home her father beats her. Janice confessed this to her friends, and they have spread the news all over school, so now she feels ashamed. Both Leslie and Jess feel pity.
Commentary on Chapter Seven: The Golden Room
Leslie is happy working with her father, saying she is beginning to understand him. The things that Leslie tells him are new and foreign to Jess who did not know that you could understand parents. He is also overwhelmed by the Burkes's family life as contrasted to his own. At home everyone fights, and there is no time for loving interactions or understanding. The Burkes cooperate on a project and have fun together. Jess loves how intelligent they are with their music and books and original thoughts. They have artistic interests and appreciate Jess's skills whereas at home he is constantly criticized. These are idyllic moments Jess will always remember.
At the same time, Leslie lets Jess understand that their magic kingdom of Terabithia belongs to only them. She has not told her parents. Jess likes that Leslie knows “queen talk” (p. 70) speaking formally about the events of Terabithia. He is not as confident about his king talk, but he knows how to imagine battles and monsters. The secret of Terabithia is so important to Jess that he threatens May Belle when she says she has followed them and knows what they do.
An interesting twist on the story about Janice Avery's father beating her is introduced by Jess to Leslie. She points out that in Arlington, where she comes from, a man could be put in jail for beating a child. Jess tells her that here in the country, it is an unspoken rule that kids protect their parents by never speaking of hardship at home. He is sorry for Janice because she betrayed her family. Again, the difference in values is noteworthy. The Burkes are educated and believe in progressive ideas, such as stopping parents from child abuse.
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, Illustrated by Donna Diamond, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.