Bridge to Terabithia
How we cite our quotes:
He couldn't help turning to watch. She ran as though it was her nature. It reminded him of the flight of wild ducks in the autumn. So smooth. The word "beautiful" came to his mind, but he shook it away and hurried up toward the house. (3.87)
Jess has no choice but to admire Leslie's run, just as Leslie has no choice but to run the way she does. Watching her "beautiful" run inspires beautiful thoughts in him. Jess may not think of himself as smart, sophisticated, or educated, but he creates a beautiful metaphor here when he unconsciously describes Leslie's run as like "the flight of wild ducks in the autumn."
"Did I ever tell you the story of Hamlet?"
He rolled over on his back. "Not yet," he said happily. Lord, he loved Leslie's stories. Someday, when he was good enough, he would ask her to write them in a book and let him do all the pictures. (5.62-63)
Jess doesn't realize that Hamlet or Moby Dick, or any of the rest, aren't necessarily "Leslie's stories" – but, of course, we know they were written by Shakespeare and Melville, and people like that. But, for Jess, they basically come from Leslie herself. Here we see a side of Jess's innocence, as he imagines a future for the two of them in which she writes these stories (which have already been written by other people) and he draws the illustrations – a child's fantasy of a grown-up world.
"Did you know her father beats her?"
"Lots of kids' fathers beat 'um." Will you get on with it?
"No, I mean really beats her. The kind of beatings they take people to jail for in Arlington." She shook her head in disbelief. "You can't imagine…" (7.85-87)
We think this small interchange is one of the most painful things in the book. Leslie, in her innocence, is horrified and amazed by the way that Janice describes her "beatings." For Leslie – the queen of imagination and of Terabithia – to classify those beatings as something that "can't" be imagined, means they must be incredibly, incredibly bad. What compounds this, though, is that Jess isn't amazed or shocked at first by the fact that Janice gets beaten. Instead, he matter-of-factly says, "Lots of kids' fathers beat 'um." What kind of world are these kids living in?