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Dashka Slater's The 57 BusDigital Companion Text

by: Joey R.

Joey RothEnglish Period 1The 57 BusDiscrimination on the Basis of Gender, Race, and Sexuality A major concept thatThe 57 Bus by Dashka Slater is centered around is discrimination based on sexuality, gender, and race and how it affects the characters. Throughout the story, both Richard and Sasha are discriminated against, though for different reasons. Sasha is often publicly discriminated against for their sexual identification and Richard for his race. Before diving into the various forms of discrimination inThe 57 Bus, it is important to know a little bit about one of our more complicated characters: Sasha. Sasha was born male, but as they grew up they realized that they weren’t comfortable in their own body. Most people Sasha knew didn’t question their own gender, but Sasha knew something wasn’t right. When they were little, Sasha tried on a skirt from one of their friends. Immediately when they put on that skirt, they felt more connected with their body. Their friend, Carrie, said later: “What struck them was how comfortable it was to wear one” (Slater 43). Later, Sasha began to transfer into being agender, which means that they don’t identify as male or female, and they use they/them pronouns instead of he/she pronouns. The first major form of discrimination against Sasha was when they are set on fire riding the bus home from school. Most likely, this was because they were cross-dressing in public, and Richard, the attacker, didn’t understand it. However, if the reader looks further into the situation and the eventsafterthe attack, we find a new level of ignorance that led to the discrimination. After Richard was arrested for the attack on Sasha, he was interviewed at the police station. During this interview, he told the police he attacked them because he was homophobic, saying “I don’t like gay people” (Slater 143). This is discriminatory due his simple ignorance. When Sasha walked onto the bus that day, Richard immediately assumed that they were homosexual, when in fact they were not. They actually sexually identified as cupiosexual, meaning they’re not truly sexually attracted to either gender at all. This is an extension of asexuality. Richard’s comments illustrate the ignorance of society as a whole towards people of other sexual identifications. While there was much discrimination dealt by Richard, he also received some when he was younger, and he still was then. For example, in April 2012, Richard and his friends got in an argument with a group of white girls. Later, the girls told the police, and Richard and his friends were arrested, but for what? For having an argument on the beach? There are also some statistics given inThe 57 Bus. In 2012, there were 8 African-American young men under 18 years old who were murdered in Oakland, CA by police. One of these people was Richard’s friend: Charles Hill. In 2008, Richard lost 2 aunts to murder, as well. Therefore, even though Richard’s actionswereterrible and harmful, he has also been discriminated against in awful ways. This may have also had an effect on why he put the lighter to Sasha’s skirt. Discrimination in America is all too common in our every day life. Some issues regarding discrimination include wage discrimination based on gender, and inappropriate jokes and insults directed at people for their race, gender, religion, etc. Some of this discrimination may seem small and unimportant, but in fact, it is a major problem. Discrimination can hurt others in unimaginable ways, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, or spiritually. In conclusion, even though Richard and Sasha are portrayed very differently, it is undeniable that they have certain similarities. Both are young people growing up in an American society filled with prejudice and discrimination.

Slater, Dashka.The 57 Bus. New York, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017

Joey RothPeriod 1The 57 BusThe 57 Bus IntroductionThe 57 Bus by Dashka Slater tells the true story of two teenagers and the crime that changed both of their lives. in this companion book, you will read about how discrimination affects both the protagonist, Sasha, and the antagonist, Richard. This text also talks about how multiple points of view impacts the the complexity and how the writing structure is significant.

Joey RothPeriod 1The 57 BusMultiple Points of View in The 57 Bus The writing structure of The 57 Bus is extremely complex. The author, Dashka Slater, gives multiple points of view for each major event in the story. This concept may seem confusing to readers, but this way of writing allows the reader to understand the characters’ experiences with a much fuller picture. It is important to always know the full story in the real world, as well. In the modern world, life is polarized. Some issues that cause controversy and polarization today include immigration, foreign policy, and military defense. Friends can easily become separated due to a simple difference of opinions. In The 57 Bus, Slater gives the reader many perspectives, and allows the reader’s possible confusion to be somewhat eliminated. For example, one major conflict in The 57 Bus is when Richard is being charged as an adult, although he is still a minor. When Richard set fire to Sasha’s skirt, he didn’t realize the ultimate consequences of his actions. Obviously, Richard’s family is distraught, but what is even more interesting is the victim/protagonist, Sasha’s, point of view. It would seem reasonable if Sasha and their family were satisfied for this to be the case, but they are not. In fact, they are quite the opposite. Sasha’s parents, Karl and Debbie, recall about Richard in the courtroom, saying: “‘I just had this wave of emotion at how young he looked,’ Karl said. ‘He just looks like a kid.’ ‘I hope they can make it,’ Debbie said. ‘I hope they don’t get crushed’" (Slater 264). Without this second perspective, the reader doesn’t get the entire picture, which, in this case, is an important element of the story. There are advantages to stories written with multiple points of view. One advantage is the level of trust the reader can give to each perspective. It is the reader, and only the reader’s choice, to decide who to trust and what to believe. In The 57 Bus, the narration of the fire describes Sasha’s skirt as follows, “The skirt looks unearthly, impossible, a ball of white fire” (Slater 114). Later, during an interview with two police officers, Richard remembers the fire he set. He tells them, “‘ Actually, I really didn’t know that his skirt was going to do that, I didn’t know that it was going to catch like that,’ Richard blurted. ‘It was, like, a little flame. I thought it was just going to go out’” (Slater 143). This way of writing gives the reader the freedom to choose which perspective to believe. Another advantage of many points of view in a piece of writing is that a fuller picture is given. We, as the readers, are pulled closer to the characters and their more complex relationships and connections. Stories told from multiple points of view give us a more in-depth relationship to characters. With more than one interpretation of an event, the author allows us to understand all sides of the story. The example above also shows this. Both Richard and Sasha’s points of view are given about the major conflict in the story. This allows the reader to understand more fully what actually happened the day of the fire. On the other hand, there are also major disadvantages that come with books with many points of view. Many perspectives can easily be confusing to readers. In The 57 Bus, Dashka Slater gives two different perspectives of the same events that happened at the same time and place, but at different parts of her book. The previous example applies to this. These different points of view may often seem slightly unfocused and even confusing. Furthermore, these multiple perspectives also createoverlapping timelines. Overlapping events can become very complex. While one event seems so simple, a different character may have a significantly different recollection of that same event. This occurs many times in The 57 Bus. For instance, at one point, Richard, the antagonist, is at a party with his friends. These parties happen frequently at the same location, but this is Richard’s first time there. During this party, gunshots are fired during a fight. Richard is frazzled and confused. At the same time, Sasha is walking their dog outside the house where the party is taking place. However, these gunshots do not startle them because guns are fired there almost every night. These overlapping timelines create interest as well as plot depth. In conclusion, the writing structure of The 57 Bus is extremely complex because the author, Dashka Slater, included multiple points of view for each significant event. This writing style impacts the reader in interesting and complex ways. By looking past the confusion the writing might seem to create, the reader can understand a more in-depth relationship with the characters in the story, and the events that occur.

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