Bridge of San Luis Rey’s Tone
In the last two pages of his novel, Bridge of San Luis Rey, Thornton Wilder creates a tone unparalleled throughout the rest of the book. The tone of these last few pages, as I perceive, is that of the authors praising and adoration of the Abbess’s saintliness and selflessness. This tone is indisputably found underlying these pages. This tone is explained with the use of the three major quotes, found within these pages, as presented next in the following. “Madre María dared not say aloud how great her astonishment was… ‘Now learn, ‘she commanded herself, “learn at last that anywhere you may expect grace.’”. This self-rebuke occurs after the Abbess has witnessed herself being judgmental. She is horrified by her sinfulness. She is shocked that she had unconsciously prejudged the Marquesa and had submissively thought her to not be smart enough to conjure such great works of writing. The Abbess criticizes herself for having been so evil, and thus unknowingly makes herself even saintlier than before! The author is making the Abbess even more righteous by having her criticize herself when she is already so.
As the Abbess is walking by the sick and blind, she has a sudden prophetic thought. “I can’t help thinking that something could be done for the deaf-and dumb. It seems to me that some patient person could,…could study out a language for them.” The Abbess cares so much for them to have thought of such a language for them to communicate with the healthy (later this language is made and called sign language). Her saintliness partly derives from her loving of everyone, even those not as fortunate as others. She is, as the author portrays, so saintly, that she is prophetic, prophetic like Jesus, Mohammad, and other famous prophets. Wilder gives this prophetic attribute to show how devout he imagines her to be. He wants to present her to be so saintly to be comparable to those other religious figures. “Within all was...
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