Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Jack Character Analysis

Jack is a tough, independent bus driver whom Rachel profiles. After Beth tells off a white mother and daughter for making racist comments about an interracial couple, Jack compliments her courage and explains that he grew up working in manual labor jobs with immigrants from all over the world. He also tells Rachel and Beth that he has been single for more than 20 years, in part because he feels too independent to tie himself down with a relationship, and in part because he is still in love with a girl from high school. He also explains that he can often help direct his passengers to the psychological and social services they need, because he used to be a community service counselor. He is an avid cook, and he loves giving his creations away to his passengers. As an ode to his skill and creativity, Rachel includes several of his traditional Pennsylvania German recipes in the book. In addition to showing how bus drivers can play an important role in helping others and holding their communities together, Jack shares Beth’s stubborn independence and Rachel’s bad luck with romance.

Jack Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Jack or refer to Jack. 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.
21. August: The Loner Quotes

To Beth, every day is Independence Day. This was not true for the first half of her life, and for the next quarter it was more of a rebel war, with its own versions of boycotts (particularly at meals), Boston Tea Parties (I shudder to remember her efforts to overturn the order in her classroom), and a one-woman Minuteman regiment. Since she has lived on her own, though, each day her actions declare anew that all men are created equal, and have the inalienable right to life, liberty, and, especially, the pursuit of happiness. I love this about her, and, now that I have come to see her as proudly bearing the torch of self-determination, I regard her as courageous, a social pioneer.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Jack
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:

“I wish I had a ‘Help Anyone, Anytime Book,’ like Jack’s.”

“Why?”

What I want is a guide to being a good sister, to doing well by Beth, and I would leave it propped on my lap all the time. There would be instructions on how to adjust my guidance to her self-reliance, and how to find the difference between caring and controlling.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth (speaker), Jack
Page Number: 217
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Riding the Bus with My Sister LitChart as a printable PDF.
Riding the Bus with My Sister PDF

Jack Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character Jack appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
21. August: The Loner
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
...daughter that “what you’re saying iz wrong. Iz not nice.” Then, she and Rachel board Jack’s bus. Jack is tough and world-weary, but he also has a carefree grin. (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
As the bus drives through a diverse neighborhood of immigrants, Beth tells Jack about the altercation with the mother and daughter. Rachel and Jack agree that Beth did... (full context)
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Jack tells Beth that she helped the mother and daughter, even if they didn’t actually listen... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
On the bus, Jack comments that “independence […] can have its drawbacks,” like loneliness. For instance, he has been... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
On Jack’s bus, Beth tells Rachel that she wishes Jack could meet the girl he loved in... (full context)