Bridge to Terabithia Themes

Bridge to Terabithia Themes


One of the main themes in the novel is friendship, namely the friendship between Jess and Leslie. The novel highlights the importance of friendship and how it helps a person develop at a personal level. Jess and Leslie grow and mature because of their friendship and they also learn how to deal with a reality that is often painful through their friendship. Jess and Leslie complete one another and they also push themselves to achieve their dreams and discover new things about themselves. What is important is that through this friendship Jess and Leslie are strengthen by their relationship and they both reach a level of maturity that would be otherwise hard to achieve.

Gender roles

Another theme in the novel is the idea that both Leslie and Jess have to conform to certain social norms imposed on them. Both families are disappointed to see that their children are not what they expected them to be. In Leslie’s case, her family hoped that she will be feminine and that she will behave like a proper lady. Because Leslie behaves more like a boy than a girl and because of her tomboy attitude, she has to deal with her parents’ disapproval and disappointment and Jess’s peers ridicule him because of his love for art. Jess’s family also disapproves of his passion for art and resent his creative tendencies that they consider as being useless and a sign of weakness. Both Jess and Leslie feel the pressure the others put on them to behave in a certain way and because of this they create a mythical world where they can do what they want and be who they want.

Quest for identity

Because the society expects them to behave in a certain way, Leslie and Jess are always questioning who they really are and what they want from life. While Leslie is relatively free to do whatever she wants, Jess is pressured to act in a certain way because he is a boy and when he dares to want something else than what is generally accepted, he is criticized for it. Leslie helps Jess on his journey and facilitates his progress by encouraging him to try new things and follow his dreams.

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