Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

As has been typical of most short fiction since Anton Chekhov first developed modern techniques, “The Bridge” communicates its meaning by simple description and implication rather than by exposition, by allegorizing, or by overt metaphor. The method of communicating meaning in the story is covert rather than overt, and readers must make their best guesses about its significance, drawing on the few details that the writer provides. What communicates meaning in “The Bridge” is not the time-bound cause-and-effect sequence of its events but rather the implications the reader can derive from the details clustered about the protagonist. The image of the flowers floating on the water, for example, suggests the death of something, even as the image of the floating object resembling a baby’s cap suggests the bleakness of the woman’s emptiness.

Although subtle and covert, many details in the story imply that the protagonist longs for a child, does not have one, and sees the action on the bridge as an objectification of her own loss. The details of the story do not lead the reader to identify with or condemn the young woman but rather to feel the protagonist’s emptiness and lack of identity. For example, when she runs up to the young woman, she looks back down the bridge to determine just how far away she was, but she cannot find a point to identify her place along the railing of the bridge.

The protagonist’s relation to the central...

(The entire section is 458 words.)