A theme is a universal truth or underlying message. For this story, two examples of theme are the idea of a diamond in the rough and the transcendent power of love.
Let’s take the first theme first. Young Luis is a trouble-maker. He has been arrested for playing around and breaking into the house of a lady with a “million cats” on a dare. Luis seems like a bad seed. He is grumpy, lazy, and dejected. When a girl named Naomi shows up looking for a hubcap for an old car, it reminds Luis about his mother. The girl lives in a funeral home. Luis thinks about his mother.
She wasn’t perfect or anything. She had bad days when nothing he did could make her smile, especially after she got sick. But he never heard her say a negative thing about anyone. (p. 7)
We realize that Luis is not that bad. He formed the gang and got into trouble not because he is a bad seed, but to make up for a terrible loss. Many people grieve by becoming withdrawn. When Naomi shows up needing the hub cap, Luis works all night to find it.
For hours he sorted the wheel covers by make, size and condition, stopping only to call his father and tell him what he was doing. (p. 7)
Luis’s story also demonstrates the transcendent power of love. When Naomi arrives, Luis thinks of his mother and wants to prove to her that he is a good person.
He missed her. He missed her so much. Suddenly a flood of tears that had been building up for almost three years started pouring from his eyes. (p. 7)
Luis is sure to be changed from his experience. He was changed by his memory of his mother, and his love for her.