Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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Chapter 6 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 614

Christmas is coming, and Ellie and Brenda both want to get gifts for their boyfriends. There is barely enough money, however, for the family to get presents for May Belle and little Joyce Ann. Brenda insultingly asks Jesse what he is getting his girlfriend for Christmas, and Ellie chimes in, suggesting that Leslie is such a “stick” that she could not be a girl. Jesse is infuriated, partly because the crass cruelty of his sisters sickens him; he cannot understand how they can dare to make fun of someone as pure and noble as Leslie. He is also angry because, although he knows Leslie will not expect anything from him, he wants desperately to give her something of significance.

Jesse’s father has promised to give him a dollar to buy a gift for each member of the family. Even if he shortchanges each of his sisters a little on their presents, he still will not have enough to buy a nice gift for Leslie. In addition, May Belle has her heart set on receiving a Barbie doll this Christmas, and he has already promised to pool his money with Ellie and Brenda to get one for her. This year it seems important that he give May Belle something special. As his friendship with Leslie has grown, his little sister has increasingly felt overlooked and left out.

One day, while he is looking out the window on the bus ride home from school, Jesse spies a sign out of the corner of his eye. He precipitously pushes out of the seat he shares with Leslie and May Belle and asks the bus driver to let him off. Jessie runs back down the road to where he has seen the sign. It says, “Puppies—Free.”

The afternoon of Christmas Eve, Jess asks Leslie to meet him at the castle stronghold. The puppy he has chosen for her is “a little brown and black thing with great brown eyes.” Jesse borrows a ribbon from Brenda’s drawer and ties it around the puppy’s neck. Holding the creature tightly under his arm, he swings across the creek bed to Terabithia.

Leslie is delighted with her Christmas gift and names the dog Prince Terrien, or P.T. for short. She and Jesse play with Prince Terrien for a long while, laughing at his funny puppy antics. Later Leslie gives Jesse a box of watercolors with three brushes and a pad of real art paper. Jesse cannot find the right words to express his thanks to Leslie and to tell her “how proud and good she [makes] him feel.”

The happiness and peace from his afternoon with Leslie stays with Jesse into the evening. At home, he helps May Belle wrap “her wretched little gifts,” and entertains her and Joyce Ann by singing their favorite Christmas songs. On Christmas morning, he helps May Belle dress and undress her precious Barbie “at least thirty times,” and he feigns interest in the racing car set his father has given him because he wants his father to feel proud of his present. It is not long until the celebration of gift-giving deteriorates into gross unpleasantness; Joyce Ann has already broken her new doll, and Brenda is sulking because Ellie has received a pair of panty hose and she has gotten only some bobby socks. When Momma crossly tells Jesse to go out to do the milking, he leaves happily, glad to have an excuse to get away from the disagreeable atmosphere in the house. Leslie has been watching for him and sits with him in the cow shed. Prince Terrien is with her, and for Jesse, “it feels like Christmas again.”

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