Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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Describe Jess's relationship with his father in Bridge to Terabithia.

Quick answer:

Jess's relationship with his father is distant and a little troubled. This is mainly because Mr. Aarons isn't around all that much. As he works long hours to support his family, he doesn't get to spend much time with them, and this inevitably has a negative impact on his relationship with Jess. Mr. Aarons also isn't supportive of Jess's love of art.

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The relationship between Jesse Aarons and his father can reasonably be described as not very close. There are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, Mr. Aarons's job prevents him from developing close bonds with his son. Needing to work long hours to support his family means that Mr. Aarons never gets to spend much time with them. Inevitably, this has a damaging impact on his relationship with Jesse.

Jesse and his dad also have different personalities, which puts them at odds. Jesse is good at art and loves to draw. But Mr. Aarons is more of a macho type of guy who doesn't think that boys should be spending their time engaging in activities he regards as effeminate.

When Jesse was in first grade and told his dad about his artistic ambitions, Mr. Aarons was far from pleased. He very nearly accused the “old ladies” at Jesse's school of turning his son into a homosexual.

Mr. Aarons's intemperate outburst had an immediate negative impact on Jesse; he thought his dad would be proud of him and was hurt and disappointed by his reaction. Even years after the event, Jesse hasn't forgotten about it, a clear indication of just how badly it has affected both him and the relationship he has with his father.

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Explain the relationship between Jess and his dad in the movie Bridge to Terabithia.

For the most part, the film version of Bridge to Terabithia is a faithful adaptation of the book. It keeps key scenes, doesn't change much regarding characters, and nails the emotional core of the book. For example, the film does a wonderful job of conveying to viewers the relationship that exists between Jess and Leslie, and this is why the film is just as devastating to watch as the book is to read. When Leslie dies, we are heartbroken right alongside of Jess in both versions.

In terms of the film's representation of the relationship between Jess and his dad, this is also much the same in the book as it is in the movie. It is clear that the relationship between them is strained. There is a scene in the film wherein we see Jess's dad get incredibly angry over a set of missing keys. This shows us that Jess's dad is a tough task master with little ability to soften his responses for his young son. He's a hard man, and it takes Leslie's death for Jess to finally see that his dad does indeed love him. The scene with Jess and his dad crying together in the forest is an important scene because we see that Jess's dad truly does care about Jess and can be soft for him. While the film does do a decent job of showing the dad's hardness, it does fail to sell it as well as the book because the film can't give us Jess's thoughts the same way that the book does.

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