In "A Cap for Steve" by Morley Callaghan, what does the cap itself symbolize?
"A Cap for Steve," is a sweet story about a boy's love of baseball. Steve's world is dominated by his parents who do not understand his love of baseball. Both adults seem sullen and worried all the time, Steve is the happiest in the family. So as a happy kid, he falls in love with baseball and all the glamour that surrounds the major league players.
One day, after a game as a large group of kids wait for the players, Steve is standing beyond the group and is approached by a player. He expresses his admiration for both the player and the sport and is rewarded with the player's cap, which is too big for Steve. It is a prize possession. Dave, Steve's father does not understand why his son is so attached to the cap. For Steve, the cap is a symbol of hope. Steve holds a fascination for life because of his love for baseball.
He, unlike his parents, who are realists, is dreaming of what could be, while his parents deal with what is. Their lives are clearly difficult and they struggle to make ends meet. For Steve, he escapes this gloomy picture of life through his hobby and the magical cap.
"The cap is more than simply a prize to be contested. The cap was a link to a larger, more significant world, and perhaps a pledge of future glory."
When the cap is lost and Steve and his Dad try to get it back from a rich boy's family, it ends up being a wonderful moment for father and son to connect.
The cap symbolizes Steve's hopes and aspirations. Steve loves baseball, and the cap was given to him by a professional baseball player. It is a physical link to a larger world holding more glory and promise than his own.
Steve's father Dave does not approve of his son's passion for baseball, believing that Steve could use his time better by helping the family out financially. When Steve's hat is stolen, and the father of the boy who is in possession of the hat offers money so that his son can keep it, Dave at first refuses. This reflects the fact that Dave is a good man, and although he does not understand Steve's attachment to his sport, tries to an extent to be supportive out of love for his son. There is a limit to his largesse, however, and when the other boy's father offers more than he can justify refusing in light of the family's financial straits, he gives up the cap. It is significant that, before relinquishing the treasure, Dave misinterpreted Steve's signal to keep it, just as he reads incorrectly the depth of his son's love of the game. Ironically, the loss of the cap is what makes Dave realize how important the boy's dreams are in his life, and although the symbol of those dreams is gone, Dave changes his attitude in time to save his relationship with his son, expressing his desire to share the interests that matter in his life.