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Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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Discussion Topic

The relationship dynamics between Jess and May Belle in Bridge to Terabithia

Summary:

The relationship dynamics between Jess and May Belle in Bridge to Terabithia are characterized by a typical older brother-younger sister bond. Jess often finds May Belle annoying but also feels a sense of responsibility and protectiveness towards her. Their interactions reflect both sibling rivalry and genuine care, highlighting the complexities of familial relationships.

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Why does Jess have affection for May Belle in Bridge to Terabithia?

Jess in the only male child in his family. He has four sisters: two are older than him, and two are younger than him. Readers are told already in chapter one that Jess's older sisters despise him. They tease him mercilessly, and they are often just downright mean. Jess likes May Belle because she is the one sister that worships the ground that he walks upon. May Belle absolutely adores Jess, and she thinks everything he does is super cool. Jess is annoyed by her constant desire to hang out with him; however, he also enjoys the feeling of hero worship that he gets from May Belle. May Belle simply loves Jess because of who he is. She likes that he runs. She likes that he plays and has an imagination. She doesn't think his art is weird or anything like that. She loves him for who he is, and that is something that Jess doesn't even get from his father.

May Belle was another matter. She was going on seven, and she worshiped him, which was OK sometimes. When you were the only boy smashed between four sisters, and the older two had despised you ever since you stopped letting them dress you up and wheel you around in their rusty old doll carriage, and the littlest one cried if you looked at her cross-eyed, it was nice to have somebody who worshiped you.

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Why does Jess have affection for May Belle in Bridge to Terabithia?

Even though she can be a bit annoying, she is the only sibling and even family member that Jess has a good relationship with. She adores Jess and wants to follow him around. Jess finds this annoying, but yet he is very defensive of May Belle when Janice Avery steals MB's twinkies on the school bus. After Leslie's death, he introduces the magical world of Terabithia to Maybelle. He recognizes she is the only one in his family that shares his imaginary and creative side.

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Why does Jess have affection for May Belle in Bridge to Terabithia?

Jess loves May Belle dearly and feels a strong sense of connection to her. As her big brother (in fact, her only brother) he is eager to protect May Belle, and although he sometimes feels annoyed by her constant attentions to him, there's no denying that Jess and May Belle adore each other. She loves to be in on his secrets, like his habit of getting up early to practice running, and she looks to Jess to get even with Janice, the bully who stole May Belle's Twinkies from her lunch box.

In a family crowded with sisters, May Belle is Jess's most companionable, likable sibling. Joyce Ann is just a baby and hasn't really developed a personality yet, and the two older girls, Brenda and Ellie, always seem selfish and irritating to Jess. That leaves May Belle for his playmate and companion, at least until his friendship with Leslie blossoms.

To find text evidence for this loving relationship, let's look first to Chapter 1, when May Belle and Jess are introduced:

May Belle was another matter. She was going on seven, and she worshiped him, which was OK sometimes. When you were the only boy smashed between four sisters, and the older two had despised you ever since you stopped letting them dress you up and wheel you around in their rusty old doll carriage, and the littlest one cried if you looked at her cross-eyed, it was nice to have somebody who worshiped you. Even if it got unhandy sometimes.

Then, let's also look at Chapter 5, when Jess most notably tries to protect May Belle from the bully, Janice:

"She stole my Twinkies."

"I know she did, May Belle. And Jess and I are going to figure out a way to pay her back for it. Aren't we Jess?"

He nodded vigorously.

Here's May Belle reveling in the secret knowledge that Jess has gotten even with Janice on her account:

"I know," said May Belle, her eyes shining. "I know."

Finally, after Leslie is gone, notice how Jess finally decides to share Terabithia with only one special person: May Belle.

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In Bridge to Terabithia, what are May Belle's feelings towards Jess?

In The Bridge to Terabithia, May Belle Aarons is the younger sister of the book's protagonist, Jesse Oliver Aarons. We learn in the first chapter that May Belle worships Jesse, which doesn't bother Jesse too much since his older two sisters despise him and his youngest sister is practically a baby and cries "if you looked at her cross-eyed." 

May Belle can sometimes be a nuisance since she is so frequently intervening in Jesse's life out of the desire to be around the brother she admires so much. She constantly tries to tag along with Jesse and Leslie, and if she is left out of their friendship and games, she turns to sulking. As Leslie and Jesse grow closer, May Belle mopes more frequently, and Jesse starts to feel that her wish to always be included is oppressive. Despite this, Jesse and Leslie both serve as protective forces for the girl. 

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In Bridge to Terabithia, what are May Belle's feelings towards Jess?

May Belle Aarons is Jesse Oliver Aarons little sister. She is six years old and relates well to her older brother. She is very close to Jess and tries to play with him and his friend Leslie. They feel like she is butting in and do not like that very much although he does feel sorry for her. May Belle does get her feelings hurt because she just wants to included. Regardless, she loves her older brother very much and looks up to him. She has a lot of respect for him.

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