Bridge to Terabithia : Chapter 9
Summary of Chapter Nine: The Evil Spell
It is pouring rain, but Jess and Leslie decide to go to Terabithia. They get raincoats and umbrellas at Leslie's house. The water is raging in the creek. Jess is reluctant to swing on the rope across the current, but Leslie urges him on. The rain continues, and each day the creek rises. Jess becomes more and more afraid to cross, but Leslie is fearless. Leslie decides the rain is a curse on the kingdom of Terabithia. She says they must go to the pine grove to ask the spirits what to do. Leslie makes a little ceremony asking for help, but Jesse is afraid of the rain and dark forest. He feels he is unsuitable to be the king. He begins to feel incomplete, as if his fear is a piece of himself that is missing. When he wakes in the night, it is still raining, and Jess knows he will have to tell Leslie he does not want to go to Terabithia. He knows that no matter how much it rains, she will still go there.
Commentary on Chapter Nine: The Evil Spell
This chapter builds the suspense toward the coming tragedy. Leslie has no fear or boundaries, and Jess begins to feel like a coward in her presence. He knows the rain and swollen creek are dangerous, perhaps because he is a country boy, while Leslie is a romantic book reader from the city. She turns the rain into an evil spell and deals with it in imagination. Actually, the rain is like an evil spell for the children, but Leslie feels powerful as the ruler of Terabithia. Sometimes Jess just wants to be an ordinary person and go home to watch TV. He sees this as a failing on his part.
Leslie's mother, Judy, is shown as a little spacey and unrealistic too when the children get the raingear. She writes fiction, and Jess notices she is in her head with her stories, not paying much attention to what the children are doing. His own mother probably would have nagged him about going out in such weather except to do chores.
Paterson, Katherine, Bridge to Terabithia, Illustrated by Donna Diamond, Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1977.