Themes and Meanings

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

The title of Max Apple’s story suggests its theme, which is played out on a number of levels. The reader first sees it in the motion that Kay Randall makes to explain how Brownies become Girl Scouts: She holds her hands out from her chest with her fingertips on each other. It takes a full year for little girls to go through this “bridging” process of moving to the more mature level of scouting. It is, therefore, not something that one can rush. Significantly, as the Brownies imitate Miss Randall’s motion, so too does the narrator—thereby suggesting that he also must do a certain amount of bridging as the story progresses.

Jessica’s difficulty in moving beyond the trauma of her mother’s death is, however, the most obvious bridging on which the narrator focuses. How, he wonders, can he get his daughter to break out of her shell and socialize with others her own age? He understands that she prefers to stay home and watch television because she is afraid of losing anyone else or of being hurt herself, but he knows that life demands that people find ways to move past tragedies and dependence on their parents and that they assert their independence and self-confidence.

Jessica still seems unprepared to bridge with her peers. She instead lives vicariously through baseball. One wonders if Jessica used the language of baseball equally obsessively when her mother was alive and if it is now her surest way to maintain a close relationship...

(The entire section is 555 words.)