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It has been raining for a week, and Jess and Leslie are going stir crazy. Finally Jess suggests that they go to Terabithia anyway, and Leslie agrees. When they get there, they find that the creek has swollen enormously. Jess, who has always been somewhat afraid of the water, does not really want to go, but Leslie persuades him. It continues to rain, and with each day that the creek gets higher, Jess's trepidation mounts, until he ends up lying awake at nights worrying about it. He doesn't feel that he can tell Leslie of his fears, but each day it gets harder and harder for him to swing across the creek.
One day as they are in Terabithia, Leslie announces that this is no ordinary rain falling on their kingdom, but the work of evil spirits. She suggests that they go to the grove of the spirits and pray for deliverance. Jess is more than usually awkward and not king-like in this scene, as if his own consciousness of his fear and feelings of inferiority are tainting his ability to immerse himself in the fantasy. Leslie, however, does not push him on it, and suggests afterward that they dry out in front of the television at Jess's house. Jess agrees gratefully. But that night, when he wakes up to hear the rain drumming on the roof once more, his fear seizes him all over again, knowing that no matter how high the creek gets, Leslie will still want to swing across.
Jess's self-hatred because of his fears is clearly evident in this chapter. He detests himself for his fear of the creek, feeling it makes him inferior to Leslie. As mentioned before, Jess has a horror of being afraid of anything, probably stemming from his father's well-known expectations that he will be a "true man." As a result, he is unable to speak to Leslie about his fears, even though she could probably have found some way of comforting him or alleviating his fears. He is paralyzed by his own sense of shame and he seems to feel that if Leslie ever knew he was afraid, she would have less respect for him. In reality, this is almost certainly not so. In just the last chapter, Leslie was shown to be afraid of Janice Avery. Jess, however, does not seem able to remember this, or in remembering, does not grasp its true significance. Fear is a natural thing, and Jess's expectation of fearlessness from himself is unrealistic and probably harmful psychologically. But he has no one to tell him that. His family, certainly, would not be able to tell him that, not believing it themselves. Leslie does not know how he feels, so she can do nothing for him.
This reinforces the need for honesty and openness in a friendship. In becoming friends with someone, there's an implied acceptance of their foibles and flaws. Jess's relationship with Leslie is close to perfect, but he makes the inaccurate assumption that he needs to be perfect as well to keep their friendship alive. This concealment of his fear from her actually seems to jeopardize the friendship in itself. Jess is nervous and tense around her, and as mentioned before, he seems unable to lose himself in the fantasy of Terabithia as wholly as before. In not admitting his fear to her, he is denying a part of himself and not being wholly natural around Leslie, and that is never a good thing in any friendship.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Bridge to Terabithia!