Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Rachel and Beth’s Father Character Analysis

Rachel, Beth, Laura, and Max’s father is a professor who runs a mail correspondence school during most of their childhood. After his marriage to his children’s mother falls apart and ends in divorce, he only sees his children infrequently, and they resent not having him play a more significant role in their lives. However, after the children’s mother marries the abusive conman, their father takes over custody of them. Beth ends up living with him until her mid-twenties and briefly working at his school, although her work ends up being too shoddy and unreliable. He then spends several years trying to find an appropriate alternative living situation for Beth. Well-meaning and reliable but distant, Rachel and Beth’s father offers the care and self-sacrifice involved in love, but not necessarily the active support or moral lessons that Rachel finds from the bus drivers.

Rachel and Beth’s Father Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Rachel and Beth’s Father or refer to Rachel and Beth’s Father. 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.
8. March: Into Out There Quotes

Mommy sits Max and Laura and me down in her room and closes the door. She tells us, “Beth needs a little extra help sometimes, and whenever you see that she does, help her. Don’t you ever forget: it could have happened to any one of you.

[…]

Daddy says, “Some people send mentally retarded kids away to institutions, but we’ll never do that. Ever, ever, ever. We’ll always have room for her.
Then when they get up and open the doors I think about how we just heard two words that they never say in front of Beth: “mentally retarded.” We never ask why, we just go back to playing with her. But we know, too, not to say those words where she can hear them.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Rachel and Beth’s Mother (speaker), Rachel and Beth’s Father (speaker), Beth , Max, Laura
Page Number: 82-83
Explanation and Analysis:
27. September: Releasing the Rebel Quotes

Dad realizes they are lost.

I don’t know where we are,” he admits, squinting through the blackness.

Will we get home?” Beth asks.

Somehow. I’ll get us there somehow.

She’s quiet for a minute, then she looks at him. “At least we have each other,” she says.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth (speaker), Rachel and Beth’s Father (speaker), Rachel and Beth’s Mother
Page Number: 260
Explanation and Analysis:
28. October: The Hunk Quotes

She goes on and on, and now the dark voice, which I thought I’d laid to rest last month, roars within me again. I squeeze my hands together. When I started riding the buses, I remember, I thought of the people who didn’t like Beth as insensitive and narrow-minded. Now I find myself more sympathetic to their point of view. Yes, some of them are coarse and offensively vocal. But she is so loud. And she talks all the time. About nothing. I know many of us babble on about nothing, too, but she does it over and over and over—and over and over and over—and it’s really eroding the limits of my endurance. Dad used to tell us he came to dread their car rides to work for precisely the same reasons. That was twenty years ago.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Beth , Rachel and Beth’s Father
Page Number: 267
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Riding the Bus with My Sister LitChart as a printable PDF.
Riding the Bus with My Sister PDF

Rachel and Beth’s Father Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character Rachel and Beth’s Father appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
8. March: Into Out There
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...house in New Jersey to their new house in Pennsylvania. Just after they moved there, their father left their mother, and now they visit their grandma every weekend. They love visiting, but... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Rachel’s mom and dad both tell their kids that they’ll need to help Beth out and care for her... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
...family. Otherwise, she spends most of her spare time writing stories and plays. When her dad comes to visit, he takes the four children on a drive and asks about their... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
...she won’t stay home with them instead—and why she can’t just get back together with their father . They watch her leave with a handsome stranger. (full context)
14. May: The Pursuit of Happiness
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
As teenagers, Rachel and her siblings go to a diner with their father and argue about what to put on the jukebox. Now that they’re older, they’re spending... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
...moving in with the family. Rachel runs upstairs to write a letter on the typewriter her father gave her. (full context)
17. June: Goodbye
Love and Family Theme Icon
...siblings are leaving but doesn’t fully understand why. Rachel brings her trunk outside to her dad’s car, then hugs Beth goodbye and promises to see her soon. Beth is speechless. Rachel,... (full context)
24. August: Inside the Tears
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...right away. Rachel has no idea why. After the call, she faints. At night, her dad stops by the school with Max and Beth. She runs to hug Beth, who is... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...eventually escaped from her Las Vegas hotel room and called Laura from a payphone. Her stepdad attacked her and held her at gunpoint all night, and then her mother sent her... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Rachel, Beth, Max, and Laura all move in with their father . They try to figure out why their mother has “gone off the deep end,”... (full context)
27. September: Releasing the Rebel
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
When Rachel is 17, Beth has just moved back in with their father , and the three of them go to a department store to buy Beth clothes.... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Beth acts just as badly at school, and after a year, her father pulls her out. Instead, he finds her a job at the mail correspondence school that... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Meanwhile, at home, Beth loudly insists on getting everything her way. Her dad nicknames her “the Sheriff,” and she loves it—she starts calling herself “the Sheriff” and using... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Other times in the car, Beth tells her dad about her time with her mother and stepfather in Las Vegas. But she never talks... (full context)
28. October: The Hunk
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...the time. About nothing. […] Over and over and over.” In fact, Rachel and Beth’s dad started to hate driving to work with Beth for the same reason. (full context)
30. October: Come Home, Little Girl
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...has suffered from depression virtually all her life, and was devastated by the divorce with their father . She never contacted her children because she was terrified that they would reject her.... (full context)
32. November: The Eighteenth Hole
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...Max is in law school. But Beth spends all of her time watching television in her father ’s basement. The whole family worries about what she should do. Rachel and Beth’s father... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Rachel and Beth’s father signs Beth up for a social services program called a “sheltered workshop.” Soon, she gets... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Rachel and Beth’s father eventually asks Rachel, Laura, and Max to each care for Beth one weekend per month.... (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...or takes an interest in her family members’ lives. She stops seeing her mom and dad, and Rachel feels her critical “dark voice” latching onto all of Beth’s failures and imperfections. (full context)
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...mother even less. Their relationships are all awkward and full of conflict. Beth and her dad live in the same city, and he often sees her riding the bus right past... (full context)