June 16, 2011

The Bridge of San Luis Rey

Thornton Wilder, 1927
Is life a series
of unconnected events
or is there purpose

I love this idea that Wilder wanted to explore of whether or not things happen for a reason. Not that it's something everyone hasn't thought of at one time or another, but the story did a good job of keeping things unbiased. In fact that's the best part; that Wilder never actually tells us what his opinion is on the subject. It's left open-ended for each reader to determine. The best stories end with possibility.

By leaving the question unanswered, he allowed the main idea of the the story to become more about what happens to the people who are left behind by tragedy. He ends with a quote: "There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning." Living a life without loving or being loved is a lonely existence. (No Moulin Rouge reference intended.) (PG)

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