What happens to the character Dade from “Star Food” at the end of the story? What has he learned?

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Dade is facing the same questions we all face at some point in our life; "who am I" and "what will I be when I grow up?" His father owns a grocery store and instills in Dade the importance of responsibility and hard work to avoid being poor. On the other hand, his mother encourages Dade to dream and eventually something will stand out to him like it did with the inventor, Thomas Edison.

Caught between these two notions, Dade struggles to find his own path. While working in his father's store he encounters an older woman shoplifting and lets her go. After much reflection, he decides that he will detain her if he sees her shoplift again. He does in fact catch her, and while waiting for his father to arrive in the back room, Dade lets her go. He leaves, too, and walks with the woman in silence for awhile. He may be wondering how he can pass judgment on this woman when he does not even know his own self.

Dade learns about disappointment and that no matter the advice he receives, he is alone in this world to make his own choices. Perhaps he sees that the woman is alone as well and is living with the choices she has made.

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This is the crucial question in the short story. Throughout the short story, Dade lived his life between his father and mother. His father was a practical man who planned out his life, and he wanted Dade to do the same. Dade's mother was a dreamer, and she wanted Dade to dream and do something great. 

As one can imagine, Dade was torn between the desires and aspirations of his mom and dad. At one point, it seemed that he would take his father's path. He started taking working at the store more seriously. In fact, he was going to capture a shoplifter. He actually does. But after a while, he lets her go. Oddly, he even begins to walk with her for some time, and the story ends. 

The point of the story is that Dade is still in the middle. He is as lost as ever. So, he just wanders. If he has learned anything it is that he cannot live for his mom or dad. He has to find his own way, which he has yet to do.  

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