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The next morning Jess heads down to the creek. He means to see if he can find any of his paints, but once he is there he decides to go to Terabithia instead. He crosses on an old branch and then hesitates, unsure of what to do. For a minute he is convinced that the magic has indeed departed forever, that Leslie's death and the breaking of the rope cemented his fate as an ordinary boy rather than a king for the rest of his life. He has always felt somewhat at a loss without Leslie to guide him through the wonders of the kingdom. She is always been the one who spoke so royally, who had most of the ideas, who really had a sense of how a magic kingdom should be. Jess wants to recapture that, but he's not sure how. Eventually he decides to make a funeral wreath.
Jess is pleased with the effect when he has done. He picks it up and slowly, at the head of a great procession, carries it to the grove of the spirits. Here he manages to find words, lifted from his few experiences at church, "Father, into thy hands I commend her spirit." Those words have the ring of the sacred grove in them, and Jess begins to feel that perhaps he can be a king even now that his queen is gone.
Just then he hears a shriek. May Belle has tried to cross to the other side of the creek on the branch, but she has gotten stuck halfway and is too terrified to move. Jess is still in control, and the sense of strength that descended upon him in the sacred grove has not left him. He rescues her, coaxing her across to the other side. May Belle confesses that she had wanted to help him so he would not be lonely, but that she got too scared. Jess assures her that everyone gets scared, and it is nothing to be ashamed of. They walk back to the house together.
The next day in school, Leslie's desk has already been taken out of the classroom. Everything floods back to Jess, this time in a different light. All her schoolmates had hated Leslie, he thinks, and they would not care that she was dead. They were all too eager to get rid of her desk and the memory of her. Jess is sullen and withdrawn until Mrs. Myers calls him outside the room to speak with him. She expresses her sympathy, saying how extraordinary Leslie was and how much she will miss her. Mrs. Myers said that since she will miss her, she cannot imagine how much harder it must be for Jess. She tells him that when her husband died, people were always telling her she would forget, but that she did not want to forget. She knows it is the same for Jess now, and she wants him to know that if she can ever help him through this in any way, he should let her know.
Mrs. Myers's words actually have meaning for Jess, and help him to see Mrs. Myers in a whole new light. He appreciates knowing that he will never forget Leslie. He thinks about how Leslie has changed him, and he realizes that the only way to preserve both those changes and her memory is to preserve Terabithia. He knows that Terabithia is not the ultimate destination in his life. Terabithia is a place of childhood, and that he must graduate from there to the real world. He is resolved not to let Terabithia die when he leaves it for this new world pressing on him.
The Burkes move out of the old Perkins place several days later, saying that without Leslie, there is no reason to stay there anymore. They give Jess all Leslie's books and her own watercolor set, and tell him that if he wants anything they have left behind, all he has to do is ask. Jess requests some of the lumber on their back porch.
The next day Jess goes down to the creek and builds a bridge across it with the lumber he got from the Burkes. He brings May Belle down and swears her to secrecy, although he says she might want to let Joyce Ann in on the secret in time. They cross the bridge to Terabithia and he tells May Belle the Terabithians are all in a flutter, saying, "there's a rumor going around that the beautiful girl arriving today might be the queen they've been waiting for."
The final chapter ties up a lot of the loose ends in the book without ever being trite or simplistic. Jess's realization is that the magic is in him, not just in Leslie, and that he has worth on his own as well as with her. It reinforces that a part of their friendship will live on, and that although Leslie herself is gone, traces of her still remain so long as he remembers her. This helps him to achieve a new peace within himself and to carry on as a stronger person.
Jess's rescue of May Belle serves a double function. In one way it seems to be a recreation of Leslie's death, only with a different ending. May Belle could easily have slipped and drowned, and it would all have taken place again, but here Jess saves her life. Perhaps this helps him to feel he's atoned for the mistake which still haunts him, when he neglected to invite Leslie along with him and Miss Edmunds. His rescue of May Belle is clearly symbolic of the fact that Leslie's death does not leave the world hopeless and that it does not signify the end of everything. Her rescue is a renewal. This is developed when Jess brings her across the bridge to Terabithia. Leslie was an amazingly special person, but she wasn't the only special person in the world, and if Jess is to carry on with his life in a way that she would have liked, he must take advantage of the other precious relationships in his life. In doing so, he is preserving her memory as well. The building of the bridge shows that the magic was not in the rope, as Leslie had said, and it was not all in Leslie, either. Instead, it is in the heart of any person dedicated to seeking it.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Bridge to Terabithia!