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The Bridge of San Luis Rey Commentary

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Introduction

In his novel, The Bridge of San Luis Rey, Wilder develops his conceptual theme of bringing courage into life through an array of literary techniques including atmosphere characterization, diction, irony, flashback, and personification in order to portray character analysis and development . Wilder exploits his own point of view and position on the subject of love in life through the lessons learned by the Condesa. The initial dialogue between Pepita and the Condesa creates a barren and desolate, seemingly lonely atmosphere. When Pepita is questioned upon the letters concerning Madre Maria del Pilar, she abruptly changes the subject and refers back to her duties. She further responds to the Condesa with polite yet often hesitant and wary remarks, feeling as if "she had a made a mistake" (Wilder 40). Wilder is displaying the character of Pepita, a precautious and apprehensive child who is eager to please. ...read more.

Middle

Through flashbacks Wilder draws out the negative points of the Condesa's life, including her "amulets... beads... drunkenness... wreckage... neglect and exclusion" (41). By repetition the Condesa blames her meaningless life on the circumstance and the way she was brought up, vowing as well to bring new courage into life. Wilder further emphasizes the beginnings of the Condesa's new life through diction and symbolization. When Dona Maria writes "her first letter, her first stumbling misspelled letter in courage" (41), Wilder voices his intent and the theme of the novel: mistakes in life are normal so long as you live your life with courage. The author uses diction to convey that simple stumbles and mistakes like misspellings in life are normal, but the most important aspect is to display bravery. Wilder uses the letters as a symbol for the character development of Dona Maria. ...read more.

Conclusion

The opening of doors is a symbol for Dona Maria's new beginnings of a courageous life. The use of personification in the "singing of... constellations" (41) highlights the optimism in the future of Dona Maria. Wilder uses specific positive diction such as glittering and singing to illustrate the new light and brightness of the Condesa's life. The emphasis of light is further stressed as Dona Maria brings "a candle into the... room," (41) symbolizing the new warmth and light brought into her life. Wilder conveys his themes and intent through the development of Dona Maria in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, drawing upon literary techniques to highlight his point. The Condesa ultimately vows to relive and begin life again with a new perspective, but the irony is revealed in the catastrophic collapse of the bridge. When at last Dona Maria has accomplished her greatest adversity, she becomes tragically victim to the fall of the bridge of San Luis Rey only two days later. ...read more.

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