Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Estella Character Analysis

Estella is a driver whom one passenger calls the city’s “great sounding board” because she can listen to anyone’s problems and give them wise, level-headed advice. She tells Rachel that this ability stems from her own traumatic childhood: after running away from her cruel stepfather as a teenager, she fell into a series of abusive relationships and terrible jobs, until she began driving and found therapy. Like Jack, she demonstrates how bus drivers perform an important public service as healers, since they are often first person that others interact with after a crisis. Her attitude also shows how people are more likely to change for the better if they learn to accept their own shortcomings and believe in their power over their lives.

Estella Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Estella or refer to Estella. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Grand Central Publishing edition of Riding the Bus with My Sister published in 2013.
15. June: The Earth Mother Quotes

Put a lid on it, Beth, the dark voice inside me wants to say—the same voice that’s been piping up since this year began, and especially in my past few trips to see her. You’ve said precisely the same thing to every driver today, regardless of how the last one responded. Can’t you get back to a sweeter mood? Would it be such a hardship to listen to someone else for a minute?

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Estella
Page Number: 156
Explanation and Analysis:

I glance around, and realize with surprise that all the passengers happen to be female. Soon our chat in the front of the bus has rippled out to every unrequited teenager, too-young-to-vote mother, starry-eyed fiancée, common-law wife, football widow, three-time divorcée, golden-anniversary grandmother, and avowed single woman until the whole bus is talking together about men: the good, the bad, and their own choices.

[…] Maybe this is what it used to be like once upon a time. Maybe, when women gathered for quilting bees, or when men played checkers outside the general store, or when everyone came together at village dances and July Fourth picnics, this ease helped people feel less alone in their worries. Maybe, too, this was the swiftness with which neighbors became friends, and the simplicity with which one person’s tale became another person’s teacher.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Estella (speaker), Beth
Page Number: 162-163
Explanation and Analysis:
18. July: The Optimist Quotes

Beth has sought out mentors in places where others might not look, and, moreover, taken the time, and endured the pain, to weed out those drivers who are decent and kind and reflective from those who are indifferent or hostile. The ones I’m meeting are, I realize as I quickly do the math, only about a sixth of the whole bus company. That took Beth a huge amount of trial and error—and, yes, determination. I shake my head, amazed at how much I’d somehow missed, and then, with a surge of optimism, wonder if one out of six people in any profession or community would also be exceptionally thoughtful. How could I really know? Have I ever spent this much time exploring the worldviews of my colleagues at school or the bookstore? Do I have a clue about whether my neighbors feel committed to the Golden Rule?

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Bailey, Claude, Tim, Jacob, Estella, Rodolpho, Rick
Page Number: 195
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Riding the Bus with My Sister LitChart as a printable PDF.
Riding the Bus with My Sister PDF

Estella Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character Estella appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
15. June: The Earth Mother
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...from one bus to another. Out of breath, they sit down and greet the driver, Estella. She looks wise, composed, and attractive. She talks to a passenger named Josie, who gets... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Estella drives on and explains that her job requires dealing with lots of other people’s stress.... (full context)
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, on Estella’s bus, a young woman is talking about her boss has sexually harassing her. She wants... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Next, Estella tells Rachel about her own hard life. As a teenager, she got married to run... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Estella’s experience is the basis for her advice to passengers: she knows that everyone can always... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
...whenever they ride at the same time. Beth explains that he already got off, and Estella offers to help set him up with someone else, but the woman says she wouldn’t... (full context)