Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

*Drina River

*Drina River (DREE-nah). Ancient river located entirely within Bosnia and Herzegovina that forms part of the boundary of the modern Yugoslavian republic of Serbia. It is significant in that its banks represent the division between East and West in this frequently war-torn region.

*Bridge

*Bridge. Unchanging heart of the novel. While everything else changes, the bridge remains constant. It was built between 1566 and 1571 by the Grand Vezir Mehmed Pasha Sokolli. He ordered a bridge to be built near Viegrad. He hoped to link the eastern and western parts of the empire and improve the region economically. These goals were accomplished during the life span of the bridge. The unusually beautiful edifice quickly became the focal point of the area, where the various local inhabitants—Serbian Orthodox, Bosnian Muslims, Roman Catholics, and Jews—would gather on the two small terraces in the middle of the bridge to discuss matters of mutual concern. The bridge was witness to everything that befell the town’s inhabitants: harmonious cohabitation, wars and struggles, floods and fires, attempts to blow up the bridge, and changes such as the building of a water duct and local railroad.

The bridge’s significance is dramatized by events that occur during and after its building. According to legend, a pair of Serbian twins had to be immured in the bridge to ensure the success of the project. The main...

(The entire section is 460 words.)