Riding the Bus with My Sister

Riding the Bus with My Sister

by

Rachel Simon

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Self-Determination Term Analysis

Self-determination refers to people’s ability to live according to their own personal choices, instead of having other people make those choices for them. In disability rights activism, self-determination means that people with disabilities should have the ultimate power over key decisions about their own health, work, living situation, relationships, support services, and more.

Self-Determination Quotes in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The Riding the Bus with My Sister quotes below are all either spoken by Self-Determination or refer to Self-Determination. For each quote, you can also see the other terms 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

Wouldn’t it be nice, even liberating, if I could begin to see beyond my cynicism and resistance and controlling impulses? […] I think about how so many of these drivers, at crucial turning points, learned to view and inhabit their own lives in fresh ways, [and] slowly it comes to me.

Beth is living by her own choices, unfettered by the whims of an institution or group home placement decision; she travels according to the starred dots on her map; she eats what she likes when she’s hungry; she boldly dresses in a fireworks display of ensembles that declare, Look at me, I count in this world. She is, in many ways, the embodiment of self-determination.

A tension that I hadn’t even realized I’d been feeling—a tension that has possessed my body throughout this day—for weeks, no, for months—begins to ease.

Related Characters: Rachel Simon (speaker), Bailey, Olivia, Beth
Page Number: 194
Explanation and Analysis:
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:
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:
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Self-Determination Term Timeline in Riding the Bus with My Sister

The timeline below shows where the term Self-Determination appears in Riding the Bus with My Sister. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
18. July: The Optimist
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
...Beth’s treatment plan must be organized around her own preferences. This principle comes from the self-determination movement, which argues that people with intellectual disabilities should have the same rights and freedoms... (full context)
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
Rachel realizes that Beth is “the embodiment of self-determination”—she makes her own decisions in life and gets to leave an impact on the world.... (full context)
21. August: The Loner
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
...oversaw group homes, but now, her job is to help people with developmental disabilities achieve self-determination. Beth asks for less help from Vera than the agency thinks she needs, but it’s... (full context)
26. September: Surgery
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
Love and Family Theme Icon
Community vs. Individualism Theme Icon
...post-op treatment at Jacob’s house. Olivia tells Rachel that “this is how it’s supposed to work”—self-determination is supposed to help people with developmental disabilities form a community that will care for... (full context)
29. October: The Price of Being Human
Love and Family Theme Icon
Growth, Change, and Morality Theme Icon
...out places he’s lived, worked, and driven buses in the region. He and Rachel discuss self-determination, family, and the way bus drivers are viewed as important professionals in Japan. Rick drops... (full context)
36. January: Beyond the Limits of the Sky
Disability, Access, and Self-Determination Theme Icon
...the caregivers debate how much they can control Beth’s spending while preserving her right to self-determination. None of them fully knows how to apply the rules, and Rachel admits that she... (full context)