The 57 Bus

The 57 Bus

by

Dashka Slater

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The 57 Bus: Part 2: Book of Faces Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
In a poem, Slater describes pictures of Richard that he has up loaded onto his Facebook page. The poem has several verses, and each verse has only two lines describing a single picture.
The short structure of each of Slater’s verses mirrors the minimal information that can be gleaned from Richard’s photographs. This implies that Richard cannot be fully understood at a glance, which is often the case with racial discrimination.
Themes
Discrimination and Social Justice Theme Icon
The pictures reflect Richard at different times in his life, “At fourteen, in a beanie: / round-faced, bright-eyed,” and “At sixteen: jaw slack, brows raised, / expression asking, What?” The pictures capture his family, “Smiling beside his cousin’s / slit-eyed hilarity,” and “Soft-eyed on a sofa, / younger brother cuddled on his chest.”
Furthermore, Richard’s childhood pictures have the effect of reminding readers that he is just a child, and that he shouldn’t be tried as an adult. The pictures with his family make him appear loving and tender, and incapable of committing a hate crime.
Themes
Adolescent Crime vs. Adult Crime Theme Icon
The pictures also depict Richard’s life with his friends. “Standing with Skeet, spines straight, / chins up, peas in a pod. / And later, beside Skeet’s picture, / wearing a bandanna in tribute.”
These pictures reflect the pain Richard endures after his friend, Skeet, is murdered. Slater depicts Richard as a teenager struggling with the emotions of loss, and this makes it easier to forgive him for his attack on Sasha.
Themes
Accountability, Redemption, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
But, Slater writes, “None of it captures / how [Richard] looks in conversation / how his eye hold your eyes, / seeing you see him. / His own secret power: / that paying attention.”
Again, Slater implies that the photographs are an incomplete picture of Richard. Richard’s actions cannot be judged or condemned without first seeing the larger picture.
Themes
Discrimination and Social Justice Theme Icon
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