Bridge to Terabithia
How we cite our quotes:
This was the day he was going to be champion – the best runner of the fourth and fifth grades, and he hadn't even won his heat. (3.73)
Humiliation ensues. Jess worked all summer for this – we saw in the first chapter how hard he trained, and how tired it made him – and now he doesn't even make it to the final round. The story he had written for himself about how this "day" and this year would go is instantly unwound – instead of being fastest, he's not even in the top four.
Jess knew now that he would never be the best runner of the fourth and fifth grades, and his only consolation was that neither would Gary Fulcher. They went through the motions of the contest on Friday, but when it was over and Leslie had won again, everyone sort of knew without saying so that it was the end of the races. (4.2)
It's all over for Jess's dream of being "the best runner" by the end of fifth grade, and it's all because he stood up for a girl and for equality. He was the one who fought for Leslie's ambition to run in the race and, because of that, wasn't able to fulfill his own ambition of winning himself. What's sad about this is that Leslie wins so definitively that no one else takes pleasure in racing or competing anymore.
How could he explain it in a way Leslie would understand, how he yearned to reach out and capture the quivering life about him and how when he tried, it slipped past his fingertips, leaving a dry fossil upon the page? "I just can't get the poetry of the trees," he said. (4.111)
With the excitement of the races dissipating, and with his new friendship with Leslie strengthening him, Jess returns his attention to drawing. His ambition to draw well is as strong as his desire to run fast. Here, though, he seems to get results less quickly. He knows what he wants to do but can't seem to achieve it.