Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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Chapter 2 Summary

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Since Ellie and Brenda do not return from their shopping trip until after seven, Jesse spends the entire day picking beans and helping his mother can them. The weather is stifling, and Momma is in a very bad temper. At suppertime she is too tired to fix a meal, so Jesse makes peanut-butter sandwiches for himself, May Belle, and little Joyce Ann. The three children go outside to eat where it is cooler. As they look over at the U-Haul still parked at the Perkins place, May Belle says that she hopes the new family has a little girl her age so she will have someone to play with. After they have all finished eating, Jesse goes alone to the room he shares with the little ones, hoping to find some peace.

Jesse lies on his bed and takes out his drawing pad and pencils. He is a talented artist and loves to draw. He especially likes to create cartoon animals, making up stories for them and placing them in “impossible fixes.” He is proud of his work and longs to share them with others, but his teachers look upon his drawing as “wasted time, wasted paper, wasted ability,” and his father scorns his interest in art as being effeminate, unfitting for a boy. The only adult who appreciates Jesse's talent and understands his passion for drawing is Miss Edmunds. Miss Edmunds is the music teacher who comes every Friday to Lark Creek Elementary to sing with the children for a glorious half hour, playing her guitar and allowing them to take turns on the autoharp, tambourines, and drums. Jesse is completely enamored of Miss Edmunds,  but the people in Lark Creek look down on her, calling her “some kinda hippie” and deriding her for not using lipstick and for the cut of her jeans. Change is slow to come in the poor, rural town; it takes Lark Creek a long time to accept what is normal in nearby Washington, D.C., and its “fancy suburbs.”

Before Jesse knows it, it is nearly dark, and his mother is calling him to milk the cow. While he is busy completing this task, his older sisters come home, happily calling goodbye to the Timmonses. Momma fixes them supper. Forgetting how tired she is, sits with them, laughing and talking. Sometimes, Jesse feels lonely “among all these females,” and acutely misses the company of his father. May Belle comes over to Jesse, and while she is announcing to him that Ellie has bought a see-through blouse and Momma is “throwing a fit,” Daddy comes home. Daddy leans down to give May Belle a hug but only says to Jesse, “Mighty late with the milking, aren't you, son?”

The next morning, Jesse is so tired that he almost does not get up early to run, but he pushes himself to go out to the field anyway. As he is running, he hears a voice call out to him. He sees a boyish figure with “jaggedy brown hair cut close to its face” sitting on the fence nearest the old Perkins place. The person, whom he concludes is a girl his own age, comes over and introduces herself as Leslie Burke. Jesse, sardonically reflecting that May Belle's playmate has “come in the wrong size,” cursorily introduces himself in return then runs towards the house, calling out that he has work to do. When he comes out again later, Leslie is gone.

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Chapter 1 Summary


Chapter 3 Summary