68 pages 2 hours read

Robert Cormier

After The First Death

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 1979

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Symbols & Motifs

The Bus

The bus represents the conflicts, both internal and external, of After the First Death while also standing on its own as a symbol. By itself, the bus shows how one place means different things to different people and at different times. The hijackers view the bus as a means to an end. At the beginning of the book, the bus is a commitment Kate takes on when her uncle isn’t available to drive, and the kids view the bus as the time between home and fun at camp. Later, the bus becomes a place of danger for the captives and, for Kate, the place she fears she will die.

In terms of conflict, the bus is the location of the book’s external conflicts—both Kate against the hijackers and Inner Delta against the terrorists. Kate and the children represent what’s at stake in this confrontation and the potential consequences of Inner Delta’s failure. During the final skirmish at the end of the book, the bus emerges unharmed while the van and helicopter take irreparable damage. The bus symbolizes Inner Delta’s success in overcoming the hijackers while the destruction of the other vehicles shows that the success is not without loss.

The bus also represents internal conflicts and how Kate, Miro, and Ben each learn things about themselves.