Wilder develops his conceptual theme of bringing courage into life through an array of literary techniques including atmosphere characterization, diction, irony, flashback, and personification in order to portray character analysis and development . Wilder exploits his own point of view and position on the subject of love in life through the lessons learned by Condesa. The initial dialogue between Pepita and the Condesa creates a barren and desolate, seemingly lonely atmosphere.
When Pepita is questioned upon the letters concerning Madre Maria del Pilar, she abruptly changes the subject and refers back to her duties.
She further responds to the Condesa with polite yet often hesitant and wary remarks, feeling as if “she had a made a mistake”. Wilder is displaying the character of Pepita, a precautious and apprehensive child who is eager to please. Through the discourse, Wilder further depicts the character of Dona Maria.
The author highlights Dona Maria’s naivety and desperation as she chooses to send letters that “piteously asked her daughter how much she loved her”.
Wilder is illustrating Dona Maria’s delicate yet desperate nature. Upon Pepita’s disposal of the letter, the Condesa, at last, realizes one central theme to the novel that Wilder presents. The intent of the author’s philosophy is conveyed through Dona Maria’s realization of what precisely life is. Dona Maria ultimately grasps that “she had never brought courage to either life or love”.
Wilder The entire existence of Dona Maria was filled with a lack of courage, and now she realizes the importance of bringing courage into life.
Wilder further uses personification to emphasize Dona Maria’s ultimate understanding of the significance of life, as the Condesa’s “eyes ransacked her heart”. Dona Maria at last scrutinizes and carefully inspects the meaningfulness of her life through a set of flashbacks, only to discover that she lacked bravery in all that she did. Through flashbacks, Wilder draws out the negative points of Condesa’s life, including her “amulets…beads… drunkenness… wreckage… neglect and exclusion”.
By repetition the Condesa blames her meaningless life on the circumstance and the way she was brought up, vowing as well to bring new courage into life. Wilder further emphasizes the beginnings of the Condesa’s new life through diction and symbolization. When Dona Maria writes “her first letter, her first stumbling misspelled letter in courage”, Wilder voices his intent and the theme of the novel: mistakes in life are normal so long as you live your life with courage.
The author uses diction to convey that simple stumbles and mistakes like misspellings in life are normal, but the most important aspect is to display bravery. Wilder uses the letters as a symbol for the character development of Dona Maria. The letters in the beginning of Dona Maria’s life were filled with self-pity. Now, the first letter symbolizes Condesa’s new and courageous, outspoken perspective on life. Wilder’s diction describing the “free and generous” letters show that Dona Maria is able to liberally and openhandedly express herself with newfound bravery.
“No one else has regarded them as stumbling”, indicating that mistakes in life are typical, and no one truly cares. The first letter, regarded as the famous Letter LVI, contains an “immortal paragraph of love”. Wilder utilizes diction by describing love as immortal, highlighting another significant theme of the novel. The author is speaking out through the Condesa on the immortality of love. Wilder voices his position that even through death, love is connected between the land of the living and the land of the dead by the bridge of love.
When Dona Maria at last completes her letter, she “opened the door upon her balcony and looked at the great tiers of stars that glittered above the Andes”. The opening of doors is a symbol of Dona Maria’s new beginnings of a courageous life. The use of personification in the “singing of… constellations” highlights the optimism in the future of Dona Maria. Wilder uses specific positive diction such as glittering and singing to illustrate the new light and brightness of Condesa’s life.
The emphasis on light is further stressed as Dona Maria brings “a candle into the…room,” symbolizing the new warmth and light brought into her life. Wilder conveys his themes and intent through the development of Dona Maria in The Bridge of San Luis Rey, drawing upon literary techniques to highlight his point. The Condesa ultimately vows to relive and begin life again with a new perspective, but the irony is revealed in the catastrophic collapse of the bridge. When at last Dona Maria has accomplished her greatest adversity, she becomes tragically victim to the fall of the bridge of San Luis Rey only two days later.