What does the girl mean when she tells Renault not to miss his bus in "Chocolate Wars"?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is actually a boy, "about nineteen, (with) long black hair brushing his shoulders, (and) a curling mustache, like a limp black snake draped on his upper lip, the ends dangling near his chin", who tells Renault not to miss his bus.  The boy is one of the "hippies...flower children...street people...drifters...drop-outs" who "come out in the spring and (stay) until October", a member of the counter-culture of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the era in which the story is set.  Renault is standing at the bus stop after school, and the boy taunts him, saying,

"Go get the bus, square boy...Don't miss the bus, boy.  You're missing a lot of things in the world, better not miss that bus".

The bus is symbolic of Renault's mindless conformity to societal norms and expectations.  As the unnamed boy says,

"Going to school every day.  And back home on the bus.  And do your homework...Square boy.  Middle-aged at fourteen, fifteen.  Already caught in a routine.  Wow".

The boy's words make Renault uncomfortable, but they also make him think.  The boy is right, Renault spends his days unquestioningly following rules and trying to meet up to expectations imposed by others, but he is not happy with his life.  He wonders about the purpose of it all, about what things he may be missing.  The self-examination instigated by the taunts about the bus will play a large part in the way Renault responds to the pressures and dilemmas later posed by the "chocolate wars" at school (Chapter 3).

Read the study guide:
The Chocolate War

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