Bridge to Terabithia

by Katherine Paterson

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1. Katherine Paterson likes novels with strong plots. She says, "As burdensome as the limitation of plot may seem to be, it is not one I'm willing to circumvent. I simply don't like novels that aren't going anywhere, and I can't imagine many readers who do." Define plot and discuss whether Bridge to Terabithia has an effective plot. Be sure to consider the accidental death of Leslie in this context.

2. Paterson sees herself writing novels, yet she has a preference for fantasies and romances. Define each form and discuss Bridge to Terabithia as a novel or a romance.

3. Although the narrator of the novel is third-person, the narrator stays close to the consciousness of Jess throughout the action. This proves to be a difficult strategy of telling the story in the period immediately following Jess's discovery of Leslie's death. How does Paterson describe Jess's reactions when he seems to be in a state of shock? Describe and evaluate the effectiveness of this narrative technique.

4. Jess's mother and Janice Avery are unsympathetic characters. How would you explain what seem to be their harsh actions? Compare the two characters.

5. Janice Avery provides a classic example of child abuse. After researching this topic by finding articles in The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature, describe the causes and effects of child abuse and evaluate Paterson's portrayal of this problem. Does Paterson see any solutions to the problem of child abuse? Do the articles that you have read see any solutions?

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