Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Riding the Bus with My Sister: 29. October: The Price of Being Human Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For their first date, Rick takes Rachel out to a golf course on a rainy Sunday. It’s closed, but Rick wants to go anyway. Rachel is relieved to see that they can carry on a conversation naturally. On their drive, Rick tells Rachel how he used to drive more luxurious intercity buses, but couldn’t stand the loneliness that came with such long distances. Rick leads Rachel through the parking lot to the closed gate, which they easily climb over. Rick tells Rachel that, like Beth, she’s sweet, generous, a bit innocent, and open-hearted. Rachel suggests that these qualities also get her and Beth hurt, but Rick calls this “the price you pay to be more human.”
Rachel and Rick’s date shows that Rachel is finally taking the lessons she has learned from Beth to heart: she is opening herself up to other people and romantic possibilities, even if this requires her to accept vulnerability along the way. Of course, Rick’s comment about “the price [Rachel and Beth] pay to be more human” shows that he understands this vulnerability and respects the courage that it requires. His story about loneliness on long bus rides shows that he, like Beth, values the sense of grounded community that comes from the city bus. And his decision to tell this story suggests that he’s also making an effort to sincerely open up to Rachel.
Themes
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Rick and Rachel stop on a bridge over a stream and discuss romance, family, and the frustrating work of loving Beth. In the evening, they eat Indian food—which Rick hasn’t tried before but ends up loving. On their drive back, Rick points out places he’s lived, worked, and driven buses in the region. He and Rachel discuss self-determination, family, and the way bus drivers are viewed as important professionals in Japan. Rick drops Rachel off at Beth’s apartment, and Rachel realizes that she doesn’t have the pass that she needs to get in the building. She calls Beth, who comes downstairs half-asleep and lets her in. Rachel feels like she has “finally taken a step [forward].”
While Rachel and Rick’s connection began with their mutual care for Beth, it has clearly grown. In fact, it has become deeper than any new relationship that Rachel has formed in the last several years, which highlights just how lonely and isolated she has been. It’s unclear whether their connection will endure or lead to a relationship, but it does clearly affirm that Rachel has made the right choice by embracing her vulnerability and deliberately seeking out others for the first time in many years.
Themes
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon