The 57 Bus

The 57 Bus

by

Dashka Slater

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The 57 Bus: Part 3: 4:52 P.M. Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At 4:52 P.M., the security camera on the 57 bus records Richard and Lloyd as they board. In the back, they find their friend Jamal, who is just a few feet away from a sleeping Sasha. “Look at this dude,” Jamal says to Richard, pointing at Sasha. As the camera records, Lloyd runs back and forth to the front of the bus, flirting with a girl, and Jamal hands Richard a lighter.
Jamal’s reference to Sasha as a “dude” is another example of the gendered nature of the English language. “Dude” assumes that Sasha is boy, and, just as Sasha argues, this word also projects this assumption to anyone who hears Sasha referred to as such.
Themes
Gender and Sexuality Theme Icon
Binary Thought and Inclusive Language Theme Icon
Although Jamal can’t be heard on the video, he takes out his phone and “points it at Sasha as if planning to record.” It will be “funny,” Jamal and Richard figure, “like that prank show on MTV with Ashton Kutcher, Punk’d.” The skirt will smoke a little and they will all have a good laugh. “I need a good laugh,” Richard says, and flicks the lighter near Sasha’s skirt.
This interaction implies that Richard doesn’t intend to hurt Sasha with his poorly conceived prank—he is simply a kid looking to have a “good laugh” at the expense of the “dude” in a skirt. This interaction implies that Richard is not a hardened criminal while also underscoring the social marginalization of LGBTQ individuals.
Themes
Gender and Sexuality Theme Icon
Adolescent Crime vs. Adult Crime Theme Icon
Discrimination and Social Justice Theme Icon
Sasha’s skirt fails to smoke or smolder. “Go ahead, you do it,” Jamal says to Richard. He flicks the lighter a second time, but there is still no smoke. “Do it,” Jamal says again as Lloyd joins them, giving up on the girl. Richard flicks the lighter for a third time, and again, “nothing.” Lloyd yells “Back door! Back door!” to the driver, and the three get “ready to make their escape.” Richard flicks the lighter for the forth time just as the driver opens the back door. Richard immediately jumps off the bus, and as he does, Sasha’s skirt “erupts into a sheet of flame.”
Clearly, Richard is encouraged by both Jamal and Lloyd in his attack on Sasha. It is likely that Richard would have given up after the first and second attempts failed to ignite Sasha’s skirt, but Jamal’s persistent comments ensure that Richard keeps trying. Lloyd’s efforts to ease their escape also encourage Richard’s actions, and this implies that Jamal and Lloyd are also responsible for Sasha’s injuries.
Themes
Adolescent Crime vs. Adult Crime Theme Icon
Accountability, Redemption, and Forgiveness Theme Icon