Bridge to Terabithia : Chapter 8
Summary of Chapter Eight: Easter
Before Easter the rains begin, and the creek that had been empty is now a rushing torrent. Jess is afraid the dog in his jacket might fall into the creek as he swings on the rope over the water to Terabithia.
Easter is the only time the Aarons family goes to church, and the girls begin nagging about new clothes for Easter Sunday. Mr. Aarons comes home to announce he has been laid off from work, so there will be no new clothes. Jess tells this bad news to Leslie, who suddenly asks if she can go to church with the family. She has never been to church before. Jess tells her she cannot wear pants.
On Easter, Leslie is dressed like a girl and has polite manners. As the children sit in the back of the truck they sing songs on the way to church. Jess thinks church is boring, but afterward, Leslie says it was better than a movie and that all the Jesus story is interesting. Jess explains Jesus had to die because people are sinners. It's in the Bible. May Belle says if you don't believe the Bible you will go to hell. Leslie says she does not believe God damns people to hell. The Aarons children are shocked to hear her original opinions on Jesus.
Commentary on Chapter Eight: Easter
On the topic of religion, the contrast between Leslie and the local children is pronounced. Leslie comes from an intellectual family that obviously doesn't believe in religion, yet she is curious. She goes to church with an open mind, and finds it beautiful. The Aarons children only know conventional religion and find it boring. Leslie thinks the Jesus story is beautiful like that of Socrates or Aslan, the character in the Narnia books. The children argue over the existence of hell. Even without being a Christian, Leslie seems to have faith in the goodness of God and that God would not put someone in hell. May Belle challenges Leslie: “What's going to happen to you if you die?” (p. 85) This is another foreshadowing of the death about to happen. Leslie is only a child, but she is as mortal as anyone else. The conversation prepares the reader, not only for the event, but also for how Leslie would face it. Without being religious, she has faith in her Creator. She does not fear life, and she does not appear to fear death and hell.
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, Illustrated by Donna Diamond, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.