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Theme Of Transformation In Bridge To Terabithia


One of the major themes in the novel “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson is transformation. At the beginning of the novel, Jesse Aarons portrays the fearful, frustrated, angry and depressed character. After meeting Leslie and losing her, Jesse transforms into a courageous and brave individual who is free from anger and frustration. Leslie Burke, in the novel, is characterized as an outgoing girl who is intelligent, imaginative, and innovative and who possesses running, swimming, and creative writing talents. Leslie is the one responsible for the creation of the imaginary kingdom of Terabithia (Paterson, 111). Leslie is a new student at Jesse’s school, and she is not socially accepted by other students. She should know she has developed a great friendship with Jesse. Through their friendship, Leslie is transformed and becomes more compassionate. Thus, the power of transformation in the Bridge of Terabithia comes from both the outside and the inside. Jesse and Leslie’s friendship helped them to teach each other to become a better person. Therefore, the theme of transformation in the Bridge of Terabithia novel helped the author to convey his messages. The characters in the novel are transformed due to friendship, maturity, and the presence of mentor figures in their lives.

Theme of Transformation

The friendship between Jessie and Leslie leads to tremendous transformation. Leslie teaches Jesse to be more courageous, more creative and more thoughtful. Due to their friendship, Jesse feels that he can exercise his feelings and become more fulfilling, thus attaining self-esteem. Also, the friendship makes Jesse feel like, with her, the family is complete since she is making up the things that are in Jesse’s family life. Therefore, their friendship eliminates the fear of loneliness because, without Jesse’s assertion, he would be “lonesome.” He’s “able to be Leslie’s one whole friend in the world as she is his” (112). Thus, with Leslie’s guidance, Jesse is transformed into a generous, kind, better, courageous and more imaginative person (Paterson, 90). Hence, this theme demonstrates how friendship plays an important role in personal life. Having a good and loyal friend who is fully positive can change your life for the better.

The transformation theme helps in demonstrating the importance of a mentor figure in one’s life. For instance, Jesse had the ambition to become an artist. His father disapproved of his idea of becoming a good artist, but with help and encouragement from Miss Edmunds and the influence of Leslie, he felt like he had authority over his life and he could follow his dream to become an artist. Leslie helps helped to be imaginative, hence; making him see “the poetry of the trees” (111). Leslie’s companionship gives Jesse the courage to fantasize about himself as a professional artist. Therefore, the author uses this theme to convey a message of self-realization. Also, the theme encourages readers to follow their own dreams above anybody else’s expectations.

Consequently, the theme of transformation shows how the characters in the novel matured. Jesse transformed into a courageous individual, showing that he had matured mentally and socially. Also, Leslie transformed into a more compassionate human being, signifying that she had matured socially. Both Jesse and Leslie transformed and became better persons. Thus, therefore the theme of transformation showed the level of how the characters matured mentally and socially. The fact that Jess sees himself as an intruder at Terabithia, and he can’t get there without Leslie and become transformed, shows that he has matured in his thinking. Later, when he went to the National Gallery, he started to see the outside world the way Leslie taught him. “Entering the gallery was like stepping inside the pine grove [… it was] so obviously a sacred place” (53).  The theme of transformation helps in showing that Jesse’s ambition of becoming an artist was achievable.


The theme of transformation in the novel “Bridge to Terabithia” by Katherine Paterson helps in conveying the author’s message to the readers. Therefore, after meeting Leslie and losing her, Jesse becomes transformed and becomes a courageous and brave individual who is free from anger and frustrations; thus, he is transformed. The theme helps in showing the importance of friendship, a mentor figure, growth, interaction, and self-realization in our society. The transformation of the character’s experience in the novel depicts the experience of students. The theme of transformation helps in illustrating the changes the characters of the novel undergo.

Works Cited

Paterson, Katherine. Bridge to Terabithia. Noura Books, 2017.



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