There There

There There

Buses and BART Trains Symbol Analysis

Buses and BART Trains Symbol Icon

Over the course of the novel, buses and BART trains come to represent the intersection between public and private lives, and symbolize the ways in which Native people in particular often struggle to reconcile their personal identities and cultural identities. The transit systems of Oakland—where it is frowned upon to stare at strangers, make disturbances, or even speak—are places where the characters who use them have time to reflect quietly on their own lives and thoughts while being in a public space surrounded by a community of sorts. Given the novel’s overarching theme of cultural identity versus personal identity, and its examination of the identity crises that emerge when oppressed people must reckon with a past full of violence, erasure, and generational trauma, the buses and BART trains featured within its pages represent the tension between the desire to participate in a larger cultural tradition and a community and the desire to close oneself off to the pain of the past, the injustice of the present, and the uncertainty of the future.

Buses and BART Trains Quotes in There There

The There There quotes below all refer to the symbol of Buses and BART Trains. 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:
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Knopf edition of There There published in 2018.
Part IV: Tony Loneman (3) Quotes

To get to the powwow Tony Loneman catches a train. He gets dressed at home and wears his regalia all the way there. He’s used to being stared at, but this is different. He wants to laugh at them staring at him. It’s his joke to himself about them. Everyone has been staring at him his whole life. Never for any other reason than the Drome. Never for any other reason than that his face told you something bad happened to him—a car wreck you should but can’t look away from.

Related Characters: Tony Loneman
Related Symbols: Buses and BART Trains
Page Number: 234
Explanation and Analysis:
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Buses and BART Trains Symbol Timeline in There There

The timeline below shows where the symbol Buses and BART Trains appears in There There. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part I: Dene Oxendene (1)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
Dene Oxendene walks up an out-of-order escalator at Oakland’s Fruitvale Station and sees a train starting to arrive—he feared he’d missed it. Dene is tired and out of breath, and... (full context)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Interconnectedness, Coincidence, and Chance Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
...nonwhite”—not necessarily Native—will hurt his chances at securing the grant he’s applied for. As the train pulls away from the station, he puts his headphones on and selects Radiohead’s song “There... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
When Dene was younger and just starting to tag the word “Lens” throughout the Oakland public transit system , his uncle Lucas came to visit him and his mom, Norma, from Los Angeles.... (full context)
Storytelling Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
In the present, Dene gets off the train in downtown Oakland and navigates his way through the busy streets, but continues thinking of... (full context)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Storytelling Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
...all be in touch with him once they’re done meeting with other applicants. On the train home, Dene can’t stop himself from smiling, believing he has won the five-thousand-dollar grant. (full context)
Part I: Opal Viola Victoria Bear Shield (1)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
...they walk out the door—the front of it is covered in eviction notices. On the bus, there are hardly any other riders, and though Opal longs to ask her mother about... (full context)
Part II: Bill Davis (1)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
...up, but begs him to anyway, reminding him of “what happened to [Edwin] on the bus.” Bill reluctantly agrees to pick up Edwin, telling Karen that she “owe[s] him” later tonight,... (full context)
Part III: Thomas Frank (1)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
As Thomas walks towards the BART station to take the train to the powwow, he passes a group of white teenagers and fights the urge to... (full context)
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
...long time at the Indian Center for showing up to work drunk. On the BART train, Thomas remembers the first powwow he ever went to—one his father took him to. Thomas... (full context)
Part IV: Tony Loneman (3)
Cultural Identity vs. Personal Identity Theme Icon
Generational Trauma Theme Icon
Tony Loneman takes a train to the coliseum. He is dressed in his regalia, and tries to ignore the stares... (full context)