The Journey

Whitehead’s “Brooklyn Bridge” is the story of a journey. There’s a clear beginning and a clear end. However, it’s the main part of the journey that is more cryptic. The journey begins as an almost religious pilgrimage from Brooklyn to Manhattan. Whitehead warns the journeyer, “Pack mule and palimpsest. It starts out slowly.” He alerts the journeyer to come prepared before embarking on “this rather spectacular leap of faith” (100).  The journeyer must understand that getting to the other side will not be easy.

As the journeyer begins, “for a while she is seduced by the honey talk,” attaining a naïve enthusiasm. However, this innocent passion is fleeting. Soon, the journeyer sees “refugees pass her going the other way and she wonders what they know that she doesn’t. Forsaking what she seeks. Concrete walkway becomes wooden slats and less assured…farther on it becomes a rope bridge probably, how else to explain their swaying” (100).  The continually changing ground under the journeyer’s feet represents a doubtful state of mind. Once wholeheartedly committed to the mission, the journeyer begins to question. A spark of unease is lit as she watches “refugees” leaving the place the she had been so devoted to reaching. Now, her passion is gone, and she continues “her lazy progress along the bridge” (102).

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