Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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In chapter 9 of Bridge to Terabithia, what are three things that Jess fears?

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Many things frighten Jess about going to Terabithia in the unrelenting rain.  The creek which he and Leslie are used to crossing by swinging on an old rope tied to an apple tree is "a roaring eight-foot-wide sea, sweeping before it great branches of trees, logs, and trash".  On Easter Monday, when they first go to the creek since the rain began to fall, Jess looks up at the rope and "his stomach (feels) cold".  He suggests to Leslie that "maybe (they) ought to forget it today", but she is determined.  Jess is afraid for her, and as she fearlessly swings across, he "want(s) to shut his eyes", but he forces himself to watch, then he forces himself to follow her.  He is ashamed of his fear in the face of Leslie's courage.

By Wednesday, "the creek (has) swollen to the trunk of the crab apple tree and (Jess and Leslie are) running through ankle-deep water to make their flight into Terabithia".  Jess is terrified, his "fear of the crossing (rising) with the height of the creek", but, as with the first time, he cannot hang back because Leslie is intrepid, and he does not want to shame himself.  He forces himself to follow her lead across the raging creek, even though "his mind (hangs) back, wanting to cling to the crab apple tree the way Joyce Ann might cling to Momma's skirt.

On Wednesday, when Leslie and Jess are in Terabithia, Leslie wants to go even deeper into the forest to "the sacred grove".  Jess is filled with dread at the thought; under the pines, "without the filtered light of the sun it (is) almost dark, and the sound of the rain hitting the pine branches high above their heads fill(s) the grove with a weird, tuneless music".  Despite Jess's fear, he follows Leslie anyway, so as not to embarrass himself.

Jess is disgusted with his fears; he very much minds the fact that he is afraid of so many things.  He feels like "he (has) been made with a great piece missing", and loathes himself because he feels that he will have to go through life "with no guts" (Chapter 9).

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