In contrast to the close attention accorded its train and car counterparts, the bus is a neglected site of cultural interpretation in American studies. "John Steinbeck's Sweetheart: The Cosmic American Bus" opens a long overdue discussion about the "meanings" of the bus in American culture. It also offers a new perspective on an overlooked novel, The Wayward Bus. Focusing on issues of gender, race, and class, the essay examines Steinbeck's representation of buses and bus travel in The Wayward Bus and situates it among other bus portrayals. Although often only fleetingly, buses perpetually appear in American literature, music, and film, associated with urban and rural extremes; minutely mapped city spaces and unknowably vast (often western) open ones; working-class transformation and middle-class disorientation. Signifying a nation huge in size but local in character, the bus is a class-loaded symbol of America that at once evokes the mundane and the extraordinary.


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pp. 82-99
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