Bridge to Terabithia

by: Katherine Paterson

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

"It was Leslie who had taken him from the cow pasture into Terabithia and turned him into a king. He had thought that was it. Wasn't king the best you could be? Now it occurred to him that perhaps Terabithia was like a castle where you came to be knighted. After you stayed for a while and grew strong you had to move on. For hadn't Leslie, even in Terabithia, tried to push back the walls of his mind and make him see beyond to the shining world—huge and terrible and beautiful and very fragile? (Handle with care—everything—even the predators.) "Now it was time for him to move out. She wasn't there, so he must go for both of them. It was up to him to pay back to the world in beauty and caring what Leslie had loaned him in vision and strength. "As for the terrors ahead—for he did not fool himself that they were all behind him—well, you just have to stand up to your fear and not let it squeeze you white. Right, Leslie? "Right."

This passage, which occurs in Chapter 13, just a few pages from the end of the book, signifies Jess's having made his peace with Leslie's death, and having come to some new realizations about himself in the process. Terabithia is essentially a symbol of idealized childhood, and even the most perfect childhood must give way to adulthood sooner or later. Similarly, the most beautiful fantasyland can never really replace true reality. It has its place, but that place is meant to last for a season only. Jess resolves that he will go on living in the bigger world, and that Leslie's memory will strengthen him in his quest to make his life one worth living. Significantly, Jess does not say that he is going to pass on the vision and strength that are Leslie's legacy to him. Instead, he will distribute beauty and caring, his own unique gifts. This reinforces that Jess is not simply a carbon copy of Leslie, but that his talents and virtues are his own and separate from hers.

The last section of the quote, where he accepts that he will always have fears to face, and that all he can hope to do is face them bravely, and not eliminate them, is one of the most important in the book. Jess has struggled with self- hatred because of his fears through the entire novel. Now he has finally reached the realization that being afraid is not such a terrible thing, and that the best anyone can do is simply try to manage their fears and not let them get out of hand. Paradoxically, Leslie's death has set a few demons to rest for Jess, demonstrating that hardship has shaped him into a stronger person.