Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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Chapter 5 Summary

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May Belle is a slow learner when it comes to protecting herself against the malevolence of Janice Avery and the other bullies. Daddy has brought back some Twinkies from Washington for her, and she happily announces this to everybody on the bus. When Jesse tries to tell May Belle to “shut up about those dang Twinkies,” she shrugs off his warning, telling him that he is just jealous because he didn’t get any. Jesse is not surprised when his little sister comes running to him at recess, crying that Janice has stolen her Twinkies. Leslie tries to console May Belle, but May Belle wants revenge. She tells Jesse that he must stick up for her and beat up Janice Avery in her behalf, and when she calls him “yeller,” he knows that he will have to step in and fight the big seventh-grader for victimizing his little sister. Leslie, however, reasons with May Belle and tells her that if Jesse confronts Janice, he will be kicked out of school for fighting with a girl. She tells the angry child to be patient, and that she and Jesse will figure out a way to get revenge.

In Terabithia, Leslie and Jesse come up with a plan on how to wreak revenge on Janice Avery “without ending up squashed or suspended.” Leslie reasons that girls like Janice most hate “being made a fool of,” and she and Jesse concoct a scheme to embarrass Janice in front of her friends. Janice is known to have a crush on Willard Hughes, and Leslie and Jess write a letter to her that purportedly comes from him. In the letter, Willard proclaims his love for Janice and asks her to meet him after school so that they can walk home together and “talk about US.” When the letter is finished, Leslie tells Jesse the story of Shakespeare’s character Hamlet, and as he listens, he envisions the shadowy and surreal scenes she describes. Jesse wishes he had some paints, so that he could recreate the pictures that she inspires him to see in his mind.

The next morning at school, Jesse sneaks into the seventh-grade classroom to plant the letter in Janice Avery’s desk while Leslie stands guard at the door. Mrs. Pierce, the teacher, comes by but Leslie diverts her attention so Jesse can finish the task. At recess, Jesse and Leslie gleefully watch as Janice Avery huddles with her friends then goes down to watch the big boys, including Willard Hughes, play football. On the bus after school, a seventh-grade boy, Billy Morris, hollers to the driver that Janice isn't on the bus yet, but one of Janice’s friends offers the information that Janice will not be coming because she has a date with Willard. Billy retorts that Bus 304 has just pulled out with Willard in the back seat, and for the entire trip back the older students on the bus discuss heatedly what, if anything, is going on between Janice and Willard. As Billy gets off the bus, he calls over his shoulder that Willard is going to be mad when he hears the gossip that Janice Avery is spreading.

Jesse actually feels bad for what is going to happen to Janice Avery, but Leslie says that Janice “deserves everything she gets and then some.” Jesse teases Leslie because of the contrast between her concern for saving endangered animals such as killer whales and her ruthlessness toward people who have wronged her and those she loves. The next day, Janice Avery stomps onto the bus, her rage clearly evident and her eyes “daring everyone in sight to say a word.” May Belle is shocked and impressed that Leslie and her big brother have been able to make Janice “that mad.”

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