Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Jacob Character Analysis

Selfless, sincere Jacob is arguably the bus driver who most influences Rachel during her year of visits to Beth. He preaches the importance of trust, empathy, and gratitude. His saintly personality is rooted in his own experience: he nearly died after a long period of serious alcoholism but ultimately survived due to a liver transplant from an anonymous donor. After his recovery, he turned his life around and found religion. His calming presence helps Beth and Rachel reconnect and work through their own individual anxieties, and he serves as something of a moral compass for both of them. For instance, he tries to convince Beth to respond to conflict through mercy (or the Golden Rule) rather than revenge (or “an eye for an eye”). Nevertheless, he’s still one of Beth’s most loyal defenders, and he goes out of his way to help her and Rachel—for instance, he invites them to the Jersey Shore with his family, and he spends nearly a whole day off accompanying Beth to her eye surgery. Thus, in addition to communicating many critical lessons, Jacob represents how bus drivers can be true friends and sources of moral support to their passengers.

Jacob Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Jacob or refer to Jacob. 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.
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:
26. September: Surgery Quotes

There, in this quiet corner of the hospital, stroking her skin, I look into her eyes. They are so scratched and foggy, so hard to see inside. Yet in this moment, they are also stripped of all her defiance and foxiness and mischief. She looks at me with a fullness of trust that I seldom see.

And something happens: the ice in my heart starts to melt, and I feel a rush of love pour in. The sensation warms and surprises me, and I wonder if she sees astonishment in my eyes. She can’t see much anyway and, besides, she’s drifting off to sleep. But somehow I’m sure she knows.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Jacob
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:
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Jacob Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character Jacob appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
6. March: The Pilgrim
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
On the bus one morning in March, the bus driver Jacob points Rachel ahead to a hill. He explains that, in the past, the old buses... (full context)
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...visit. Beth found her a safe place to park, and the winter is already fading. Jacob drives so smoothly that Rachel scarcely notices when they’re moving and when they’re stopped. (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Beth complains about Gus, a bus driver who’s mean to her, but Jacob says that Gus is just grouchy because he’s had a very hard life—just like another... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
...Beth should be thrown off the bus for “cheating the system.” After a few minutes, Jacob tells Beth to show the woman her bus pass: it says “Zone 1.” Later, after... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...fun and accepting than other grown-ups. Rachel envies Beth’s ability to connect with children, and Jacob comments that Beth always knows who’s trustworthy. But they disagree about how to deal with... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Later, as they wait for a train to pass, Beth comments that Jacob once died. Jacob explains that he used to be a serious alcoholic. He got hepatitis... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Jacob says that he is so grateful that someone donated their liver to him—which is the... (full context)
9. April: The Dreamer
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...bus, but then she remembers that she has learned important lessons from both Tim and Jacob. (full context)
10. April: The Drivers’ Room
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
After they get off Rodolpho’s bus at the terminal, Rachel and Beth run into Jacob. Beth goes to the drivers’ private lounge to use the bathroom—besides them, she’s the only... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
...much time she spent on his bus. But she ignored his warnings. Eventually, Henry and Jacob got in a heated argument about her, and she noticed that Henry became cold and... (full context)
23. August: Be Not Afraid
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
In the present, Rachel and Beth go to the Jersey Shore with Jacob, the bus driver, and his family. Rachel was surprised at Jacob’s invitation, and even though... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Meanwhile, Jacob and Rachel talk. They have already been trading emails about Beth, buses, and the “Big... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...suit, but she steps into the cold ocean water with Beth. They play catch with Jacob, but Beth runs back to the shore. Rachel goes deeper and deeper, until she can’t... (full context)
26. September: Surgery
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Jacob sings along to the stereo as he drives his car, with Beth in the passenger... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...she tries her best to remind Beth of the consequences. Rachel is as grateful for Jacob’s support as Beth is. In fact, rather than just dropping them off outside the hospital,... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
After the surgery, Beth agrees to follow the doctor’s orders. Jacob spends the whole day with her and Rachel. Rodolpho and Rick visit, and after Rachel... (full context)
31. November: The Girlfriend
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...acting, and she helps him rehearse for an audition at the local community theater. When Jacob befriends a passenger with advanced cancer, Rachel accompanies him to see her at the hospital.... (full context)
33. December: Swans and Witches
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...in the living room. Beth also says that she only let Rachel keep sleeping because Jacob told her she had to. Rachel asks what’s wrong, and Beth says she doesn’t know. (full context)