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Bridge of San Luis Rey, The

perichole characters novel juniper

a novel by Thornton Wilder, published in 1927 (Pulitzer Prize). A historical romance, set in eighteenth-century Spanish colonial Peru, it examines the lives and deaths of the five travellers who are killed when the eponymous bridge collapses. Father Juniper, a Franciscan priest, believes that the deaths are part of God's grand design, and he sets out to prove this by scientific demonstration. The results of his investigations over six years are collected in a book which is deemed heretical. Brother Juniper is burned at the stake with his book, but a copy survives. The characters in the novel are the eccentric Marquesa de Montemayor; her unhappy companion, the Indian girl Pepita; Uncle Pio, the former teacher of the famous actress, La Perichole; his ward, Jaime, La Perichole's illegitimate son; and Esteban, who is deeply devoted to his dead twin brother, Manuel, La Perichole's lover. Apart from detailing the lives of these five characters, the novel is partly a theological philosophical reflection on fate and providence, and this sense of chance brings all the characters to the bridge at the same time, representing life as unified, albeit mysteriously.

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