I’ll put a **SPOILER ALERT** here because I’m going to give you a brief summary of the plot and punchline. But, the fact is, this won’t really spoil the novel for you.
In 1714, five people crossing a long-standing bridge in Peru are killed when it suddenly collapses. A Franciscan monk, Brother Juniper, witnesses this accident and wonders if he can discover why God did it, or let it happen.
In the last pages of the novel, a kindly Abbess who knew some of the accident victims ponders what has happened.
She observes the grief and love of the family members, and also observes the poor and sick people being taken care of at her convent.
She comes to an oft-quoted conclusion, which is the last line of the novel:
“There is a land of the living and a land of the dead and the bridge is love, the only survival, the only meaning.”
As a snotty high school kid, I wasn’t really moved by The Bridge of San Luis Rey or it’s famous stinkin’ quotation. Today, as a 59-year-old married man, father and grandfather, I am.
Here are some of the other famous quotes and phrases linked to SEPTEMBER 20:
• “You're desthpicable!” - Daffy Duck’s lisping catchphrase, first uttered in the Merrie Melodies cartoon "Rabbit Seasoning," which was released on September 20, 1952.
• “I've committed adultery in my heart many times.” - The famed personal revelation by President Jimmy Carter in a Playboy magazine interview. The interview was in the November 1976 issue, but Playboy released it in advance on September 20, 1976 as a publicity move. It worked.