Basic summary of "The Back of The Bus"
Feb 10th, 2013
Summary of "The Back of The Bus"
In the essay, "The Back of The Bus,” author Mary Mebane shares an usual ride in a bus on a Saturday morning she had which inspires her. The purpose of writing this essay is using her personal experience to demonstrate what it was like and how people were able to overcome their struggle for equal rights under legal segregation.
To start with, the author indicates the stage of her life situation. Her lifetime is important from a historical perspective. Mebane points out the fact when comparing with most Americans, her life was full of oppression from segregation. To illustrate that, she describes an event in Saturday morning when she was a young girl. She describes that morning by using a listing method showing the climate, stores, people and traffic. The purpose of the description is to establish the setting. And she continues to tell about the bus riding. At first, Mebane explains the special seat rule in that period as follows: White people and black people would sit in different sections. Black people are required to sit in "colored" area which are behind the exit door. And there's also a special seat called "no-man's land" that everyone could seat if the seats were full. Then she turns to main story of this essay following the progress of the event and timeline. The author flashed back about "look back" which told that her father didn't allow her to get a ride. It can be informed that she lived in a society full of discrimination against black. Thus, she talks about what happened later when she was taking the bus. She gives a very detailed description of the bus in order to let the reader has picture of the setting. The seat were almost full and the problem was that a black man was sitting in the "no man's land" which made her feel nervous. At that time, another character showed up. A white man got on the bus and wanted to sit down on the seat which a black man had been sitting. Then it goes to the climax of the essay. As the driver asked the man to move back, both the black man and a woman that wouldn't move are asserting their rights. The black man stated that he shouldn't have to move by silence while the lady claimed that the segregation laws stated by the government meant that the white shouldn't sit on assigned black seat. The writer wrote the tension between the black people and the white people to show the reflection. She also describes the man standing at the exit door to give a sense that people wanted to get out. She was terrified knowing the man would be took into the police station. After that, the whole event declines. At last the writer sets up a contrast between the white the black parts of the down. She sums up the essay at last.
All in all, Mebane shows a conflict on the bus which represented the struggle between segregation through her vivid description. She uses her personal experience to set up the story to lead readers into the period which is full of segregation and feel proud of the people who stood out to oppose racial discrimination.