“endings” in The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 27, 2007

·     the Abbess “had felt not only the breath of old age against her cheek, but also a graver warning” (the lack of a successor) … foreboding establishes tension … will she accomplish her life’s work? This question never again addressed until the final pages of the story, when it is beautifully resolved. “the search (for a successor) ended with Pepita” who later dies in the gorge, to be replaced, as we are surprised to learn in the last pages, by Perichole and Dona Clara. ·     God’s plan is seen in these new assistants for the Abbess’s worthy efforts, each of them coming to the Abbess because of their own losses in the same accident. Dona Clara lost her mother, Perichole lost Uncle Pio and her son Jaime, and the Abbess lost Pepita and Esteban. Soon we shall all die, we are told, and memory of us “will have left the earth.” But the “love will have been enough,” and all “impulses of love return to the love that made them,” ie to God. ·   last sentence … “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead, and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”


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