The 57 Bus

The 57 Bus

by

Dashka Slater

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Themes and Colors
Gender and Sexuality Theme Icon
Adolescent Crime vs. Adult Crime Theme Icon
Binary Thought and Inclusive Language Theme Icon
Discrimination and Social Justice Theme Icon
Accountability, Redemption, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The 57 Bus, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Gender and Sexuality

The 57 Bus tells the true story of two California teens, Sasha and Richard, who meet by chance on an Oakland bus. When Richard, an African American junior from nearby Oakland High School, boards the bus and sees Sasha, a genderqueer kid in a skirt, Sasha quickly becomes the object of Richard’s misguided prank. Sasha, who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun they instead of he or she, and does not identify as either male…

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Adolescent Crime vs. Adult Crime

Sixteen-year-old Richard unexpectedly finds himself in legal hot water after setting fire to Sasha, a genderqueer teen, in a poorly conceived adolescent prank gone terribly wrong. Under a California law known as Proposition 21, prosecutors have the unilateral power to try underage offenders as adults in cases involving violent crime, and this is exactly what happens to Richard. He is treated as an adult for committing a crime as an adolescent, and The 57

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Binary Thought and Inclusive Language

As an agender teen, Sasha’s gender identity does not align with either male or female characteristics, and they prefer gender neutral pronouns rather than the traditional he or she. Sasha views gender not as a binary difference between male and female, but as a spectrum with varying degrees of masculinity and femininity, including even the absence of gender. Of course, the English language relies on binary words and definitions, and Sasha is frequently at…

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Discrimination and Social Justice

As Slater’s book follows Sasha, a genderqueer teen who is set on fire for wearing a skirt, and Richard, the African American teenager who commits the assault, it becomes clear that discrimination is front and center in both teen’s narratives. Throughout The 57 Bus, the characters are continually marginalized and victimized because of their gender, race, class, and sexuality, and Slater repeatedly draws attention to this unfortunate social reality. As a…

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Accountability, Redemption, and Forgiveness

After Richard, a young California teenager, assaults Sasha, a local genderqueer high school senior, Richard is charged with two hate crimes and is sentenced to seven years in a state correctional facility. The 57 Bus tells Richard’s story, covering both the events leading up to the senseless attack on Sasha and his subsequent arrest and prosecution. Richard is punished for his crimes to the fullest extent of the law; however, both Sasha and…

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