Human Life: A Destined Path Or A Sequence Of Accidents? Literature Review Example

April 13, 2022 by Essay Writer

The fundamental question that the author of the novel “The Bridge of San Luis Rey”, Thornton Wilder places at the heart of the novel is: “either we live by accident and die by accident, or we live by plan and die by plan” (Wilder 7). In order to try to answer this question, one has to take a deeper look at the sequence of events described in this novel soak oneself in this story.
The novel begins with the description of a terrible tragedy, a bridge destruction that took away lives of 5 people, of which Brother Juniper was a witness. It is worth noting that the first part of the novel is named ‘Perhaps, an accident’ implicating that this event was not necessarily accidental. In actual fact, “the bridge seemed to be among the things that last forever; it was unthinkable that it should break” (Wilder 5). This induced Brother Juniper to get to the bottom of the tragic fate of the deceased and to spend the rest of his life trying to prove that the tragedy was a divine intervention, a destined path for all who perished in the tragedy, rather than an accident.
When thinking over God’s role in the bridge collapse as well as over God’s presence and intentions in the everyday events, adventures and happenings of people, Brother Juniper makes a very interesting point, “Some say that we shall never know and that to the gods we are like the flies that the boys kill on a summer day, and some say, on the contrary, that the very sparrows do not lose a feather that has not been brushed away by the finger of God” (Wilder 10). This statement reflects the two extremes of the narrator’s point of view concerning the influence and role of God’s intentions and divine providence in life of every individual.
In the course of reading, the further we get through the novel, we come to an understanding that all the protagonists are not only somehow related to each other, but also have something in common. Marquesa De Montemayor, Esteban, and Uncle Pio not only all died at one and the same time and at the same place, but also all of them had some goal to achieve.
As we come closer to the last part of the novel, which is named ‘Perhaps, an intention’, we begin to realize that the tragedy of the Bridge of San Luis Rey was not a coincidence, but an event ordained by fate. Although all of the deceased did not manage to reach their fundamental objectives, their deaths brought together their loved ones. The author makes a very interesting point here by saying, “But soon we shall die and all memory of those five will have left the earth, and we ourselves shall be loved for a while and forgotten. But the love will have been enough; all those impulses of love return to the love that made them” (Wilder 123).
The tragedy not only brought together people who did not know each other before, but it inspired them to make their lives more meaningful. All the five deaths made the loved ones of the deceased realize the value and importance of love. “There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning” (Wilder 123). The Bridge became a symbol representing true love and healing, binding the deceased with their living friends, relatives and the loved ones.
Of course, some of the readers might argue that the story in the center of this novel is naïve and unrealistic. However, I believe that human life is a sequence of happenings ordained by fate, which cannot be escaped from, but can be slightly changed because of an individual’s landmark decisions.

Works Cited

Wilder, Thornton. The Bridge of San Luis Rey. New York: Pocket, 1956. Print.


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