Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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What is the conclusion to Bridge to Terabithia?

Leslie died when she tried to cross the creek to Terabithia by herself. Jess made a bridge for May Belle and himself so they could get back to Terabithia.

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Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia has an ending that shows us that even in the darkest times, not all hope is lost. 

Over the course of the book, fifth-graders Jess and Leslie become best friends. Together, they create an imaginary land called Terabithia (which Paterson acknowledges is very close to the name of an island in the Chronicles of Narnia series, Terebinthia). To get to the section of forest that they've claimed for their imaginary land, Jess and Leslie must swing on a rope to cross a creek. The two friends are the royalty of Terabithia and go there every day. 

One day, when the whether is bad, Jess goes to a museum with his favorite teacher, Miss Edmunds, and doesn't tell Leslie (or anyone, really). When he returns, he finds out that Leslie has died—she tried to cross over to Terabithia by herself, the rope snapped, and she fell into the creek and drowned. Jess is distraught. 

At the story's conclusion, Jess goes and lays a fallen tree over the creek to Terabithia, and he leaves a wreath there for Leslie. He finds his little sister, May Belle, trying to follow him, and he saves her from falling into the water. When Leslie's parents give him some wood, he uses it to make an actual bridge to Terabithia. He takes his sister across the bridge and makes her the new Queen of Terabithia. By realizing he is not alone and that he has some of the bravery Leslie had, Jess is able to start moving on from his anger and grief at losing his friend. 

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Katherine Paterson's Bridge to Terabithia follows the adventures of Jesse Aarons, an artistic and moody boy who develops a friendship with Leslie Burke, an outcast at school and the creator of the fantasy kingdom of Terabithia. Together, Jesse and Leslie deal with the struggles of their real lives by escaping to this imaginary land, which they have "constructed" across a creek in the woods. 

One day, Miss Edmunds invites Jesse to join her on a tour of some art galleries in Washington. Jesse accepts, not realizing that Leslie would attempt to travel to Terabithia alone that day. The girl hits her head and drowns in the creek, which devastates Jesse--who finds out about this tragedy when he returns home--beyond belief. 

The book concludes with Jesse taking the time to build a true bridge over the creek and allowing his sister, May Belle, to cross over to Terabithia as the new queen of the land. 

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In the last chapter, the characters all reflect on and deal with the loss of Leslie in different ways.  Jesse wonders if the magic of Terabithia will still be there.  He is upset by Leslie's death, and thinks about how he does not want to die himself.  He wonders about her last moments, and if she was scared.

Jesse's teacher consoles him, and tells him that it is ok to remember her.  Leslie's parents do not want to remain in their new house because being around so many reminders of Leslie is too painful, so they are moving.

Jessie does return to Terabithia, to get his paint set but also to see if the magic is still there.  He is both curious and nervous.  He decides to move on, and does so by bringing his little sister May Belle to Terabithia with him, to share the magic with her.

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