Years ago I concentrated on the devout Brother Juniper’s missionary-zeal inspired proposition that behind every occurrence is a divine reason. How much more influential would religion be if we could go beyond “faith” and actually understand God’s purpose and plan for us? What a great collector of souls Brother Juniper would become if he proved his proposition. I wanted that answer too.
But maturity provides new dimension to Wilder’s slim, one hundred page novel. I maneuver my own way through the maze. I see that the answer to Brother Juniper’s question is unnecessary. Que Será Será. It’s how one goes through life that matters and on what one places importance that adds value. There is a bridge that doesn’t break, and it is made of something very different from the tangible osier of which the Bridge of San Luis Rey was woven. But you have to read the novel to see if you agree with Wilder.
The famous opening line, “On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below” tells us almost everything we need as background, but before the paragraph ends, Wilder says, “The bridge seemed to be among the things that last forever.” But it wasn’t. The bridge Wilder constructs in this investigation of the human condition is not one that is tangible, but is it one that is eternal.