In Steinbeck's The Wayward Bus, an assorted group of people, from respected company presidents to erotic dancers, find themselves in a lunchroom all waiting for the same bus that will take them to San Juan de la Cruz. Their presence in the lunchroom and on the bus brings about their sexual desires in an otherwise sexually inhibiting situation. Both the bus and the lunchroom, especially in the 1940's (about the time that this book was written), are common social places where sexual desires go suppressed, or unseen, but Steinbeck brings to the surface his character's sexual desires in this potent theme that runs throughout the novel.
Juan Chicoy, the main character in the novel, is married to Alice Chicoy, and together they run a shop at "Rebel Corners", which takes on the roles of: garage, restaurant, and store. In addition to running the garage, aided by the help of his apprentice, "Pimples", Juan drives a bus from "Rebel Corners" to San Juan de la Cruz. Alice runs the restaurant because Juan is to busy with the bus and the garage, and she is helped by a young employee named Norma. .
Norma's sexual desires are illustrated in the beginning of the novel with her obsession over movie star Clark Gable. Norma " wrote long and passionate letters to Clark Gable." (Steinbeck, p.6) because "She liked older men with interesting faces." (Steinbeck, p.7). Sometimes she even daydreamed about Clark Gable as described in the novel: " her dream-widened eyes centered on the screen door, her pale eyes flexed and then closed for a moment. Then you could know that in that secret garden of her head, Gable had just entered the restaurant, had gasped when he saw her, and had stood there, his lips slightly parted and in his eyes the recognition that this was his woman." (Steinbeck, p.7). This shows Norma's desire for the attention of the opposite sex, which is also illustrated by her admiration of Camille, a young lady who worked in adult dance clubs, and her ability to attract men.