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Bridge to Terabithia

Summary Chapter 4: Rulers of Terabithia
Summary Chapter 4: Rulers of Terabithia

Analysis

The issue of money comes up in this chapter for the first time. Leslie is extremely different from any of the other children at Lark Creek Elementary, and this difference is summarized for the students both by her family's affluence and their tendency to spend that money differently than most families in the area would. Being rich sets Leslie apart, but when her schoolmates learn that, despite that richness, her family has chosen not to buy a television, it is painfully apparent that Leslie and her family are quite different from anyone else in Lark Creek. What the students cannot understand, they promptly condemn. In a way, Leslie's family's lack of a television does highlight some essential difference between them and the other residents of the new area they have moved into. Television has been nicknamed the "idiot box" for a reason, it is completely mindless entertainment, a way of zoning and escaping the real world to be immersed in an idealized version. Most of the students at Lark Creek need that sort of inane diversion, and their lives have never been given over to deep thought or betterment of their minds. Leslie's family's lack of a television reveals that they have had enough of mindless entertainment, and that they are trying to get in tune with what is really important. The students sense this and straightaway resent it.

The conviction of all their schoolmates and of Jess's family that Leslie is Jess's "girlfriend" demonstrates at once how their friendship transcends the standard gender limitations imposed by their society, and how that society is simply unable to accept that any such thing might occur. Their playground is divided into a girls' side and a boys' side. Leslie flouted these gender conventions from the first when she crossed to the boys' side and won the races, showing that she was neither a boy nor a girl in the strict sense of roles that Lark Creek had imposed on the words. Leslie has always been apart from these prescriptions. Now, through friendship with Leslie, Jess has found a way to escape as well. He has never completely fit the mold, and up to now he has blamed himself for that. His passion for drawing and his inability to please his father show that he, more than most, suffers from this assumption that a boy must fit into a certain "masculine" stereotype. In his friendship with Leslie, he is discovering who he really is, without reference to gender stereotypes.