Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Jess loved to draw

This weekend I read Katherine Paterson’s Bridge to Terabithia (1977). Early in the book (Chapter 2), I found this:

Jess drew the way some people drink whiskey. The peace would start at the top of his muddled brain and seep down through his tired and tensed-up body. Lord, he loved to draw.

Jess(e) is the 10-yr-old protagonist. The story is told from a third-person, single point of view, which means that the “he said” “she did” stuff gets filtered through Jesse’s reactions.
Needless to say, this whiskey-drinking simile is either disturbing or incorrect. But it leads to other possibilities.

Harold rode his bike the way some people have sex. First tentatively, but once he had the hang of it, the training wheels came off and he didn’t care how many shins he skinned or toddlers he accidentally ran over. Lord, he loved riding a bike.

Billy built Legos the way some people gamble. The tingle would start at the base of his spine and soon his fingers itched for those nubby plastic pieces that he’d sacrifice his mother just to get a chance to build again. Lord, he loved to build.

Phoebe dressed her doll the way some people smoke crack. The first time she fastened the Velcro correctly she got an incredible rush to the frontal lobe, and from that point on it was moremoremore until she found herself in a mall parking lot offering sexual favors for a quick hit of new doll clothes. Lord, she loved to dress dolls.

Jess drew the way some people drink whiskey. Shakily. Shouting abuse at others. Wetting his pants. Lord, he loved to draw.

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