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Posts Tagged ‘The Bridge of San Luis Rey by Thornton Wilder’

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

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 27, 2007

·     the narrator is omnicsient, knowing things that were not known at the time, not even by Brother Juniper during his six years of investigation. “Yet for all his diligence Brother Juniper never knew … And I, who claim to know so much more, isn’t it possible that even I have missed the very spring within the spring?”  ·     this narrator, who is never introduced to us, gains our trust when he says that what the people of Lima have come to believe about Dona Maria is not true, and “all real knowledge” … also when he corrects Dona Maria’s impressions of the Perichole … “It was … untrue …”  ·     in the conversation (p 24) between Dona Maria and the Perichole, the narrator reveals the inner thoughts of both.  ·     the Abbess has “fallen in love with an idea several centuries before its appointed appearance in the history of civilization.” The idea is the modern role of women, and the way it is disclosed reveals the perspective of the narrator, and places him in the 20th century.

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

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 27, 2007

·     even though it’s a short novel (117 pages), the story seems to drag, as long narrative scenes regarding Esteban and Uncle Pio are added. What does this all have to do with the collapse of the bridge, and with Brother Juniper, who has totally diappeared from the story?

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

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 27, 2007

·     between Dona Maria and her daughter Dona Clara, who “barely glanced at the letters.”  ·     between the twin brothers Manuel and Esteban over Manuel’s love for the Perichole.  ·     between the Perichole and Uncle Pio, as she grows too much a lady to be seen with the man who had everything to do with her success.

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

Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 27, 2007

·     Dona Maria – characterized both by the derision of Perichole and the theater audience, and her own unawareness of what is happening, and then immediately after by her sad (pathetic) letter to her daughter  ·     Pepita – first characterized by her kindness to Dona Maria in the theater  ·     Pepita’s letter, read by Dona Maria, is her first attempt to express herself to the Abbess, “her first stumbling misspelled letter in courage.” Pepita tears up the letter, and soon sets out with Dona Maria for the bridge. The Abbess will never know Pepita’s first steps of growth toward the mature personality the Abbess has worked so hard to create.

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