Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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The Abusive Conman Character Analysis

After her divorce from Rachel and Beth’s father, Rachel and Beth’s mother marries an abusive conman who ends up kidnapping her and Beth, nearly beating their mother to death, and ruining her relationships with all of her children for years to come. When they got married, he took her and Beth to the Southwest, sold their car, and then forced them to travel on buses and hide out with him in hotels for several months, because he was convinced that the government was persecuting him. Rachel suggests that this experience might have influenced Beth’s obsession with buses, and her narration implies that her mother married the conman because he promised her an all-consuming relationship that would help her escape from her depression and other everyday problems. (Needless to say, he ended up making these problems far worse.) In addition to driving much of Rachel and Beth’s family drama—particularly their long estrangement from their mother—he shows how dangerous it can be to confuse love with power and control over others.

The Abusive Conman Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by The Abusive Conman or refer to The Abusive Conman . 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.
30. October: Come Home, Little Girl Quotes

I discover that [my mother] is not the cold-hearted, mayhem-loving monster I’d imagined, but a deeply unhappy and lonely woman who somehow got caught up with a violent con man, an event that fills her with shame. […] After Beth had been sent away, he’d almost beaten my mother to death—and only then, finally, had she fled, with fifty-seven cents in her hand.

I realize I need to learn forgiveness and compassion. Little by little, season after season, my days stop seeming so dark and my nights so scary.

I tell Laura how much better I feel, that my depression is lifting; I can even write again. I tell her that it may be the hardest thing she ever does in her life, but that if she can face it, she can do anything. She relents as she listens, and one day she too picks up the phone.

Page Number: 283
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Abusive Conman Character Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the character The Abusive Conman appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
14. May: The Pursuit of Happiness
Love and Family Theme Icon
In January, Rachel’s mother tells the children that a new man has asked her out—but he’s a hard-drinking ex-convict, and she isn’t planning to meet him.... (full context)
17. June: Goodbye
Love and Family Theme Icon
Rachel flashes back to the past: shortly after Rachel and Beth’s mother starts dating the ex-con , he makes the children move out. Max and Rachel carry a trunk of Rachel’s... (full context)
20. July: Gone
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
When Rachel and Beth are teenagers, their mom marries her ex-con boyfriend . They go on their honeymoon and leave Beth and Ringo at home. Then, Beth’s... (full context)
24. August: Inside the Tears
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
...the car, Beth explains that she was actually in Las Vegas. Rachel and Beth’s new stepfather was drinking nonstop, beating their mom, and forcing her and Beth to move from hotel... (full context)
27. September: Releasing the Rebel
Love and Family Theme Icon
...times in the car, Beth tells her dad about her time with her mother and stepfather in Las Vegas. But she never talks about the other “bewildering turn of events” that... (full context)
30. October: Come Home, Little Girl
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...Rachel learns that her mother is lonely and full of shame about her relationship with the abusive conman . After Beth left Las Vegas, he nearly beat Rachel’s mother to death—and then she... (full context)