What is the theme in "A Cap for Steve"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The main theme in "A Cap for Steve" is money vs. father/son relationships. When Steve discovers that the treasured lost cap given to him by Phillies's Eddie Condon sits on a boy's head as he comes out of the ice-cream parlor, Steve tries to reclaim it; however, the boy insists that he has bought it from another boy. Further, he contends that his father knows he has paid for it and Dave must, therefore, settle the matter with his father. So, Dave and Steve follow the boy whose last name as Hudson to the "fancy apartments" where Mr. Hudson offers to pay more for the cap than his son has paid. Dave refuses his offers at first, but when the affluent lawyer Hudson offers twenty dollars, the penurious Dave cannot refuse such a sum, especially when he believes that Steve's look signals that it is all right for his to accept.

Unfortunately, Steve did not mean that his father could accept the money; consequently, he is disconsolate,

"That man knew how much his boy wanted that cap," Steve said.
"Sure. But he recognized how much it was worth to us."
"No, you let him take it away from us," Steve blurted.

Later, Dave apologizes to Steve about his misinterpretation of the look that Steve gave him when they were in the Hudson home. But, more importantly Dave comes to an important realization: the cap represents Steve's aspirations to become a professional ball player. Understanding that as Steve's father he should be supportive of Steve's dreams, he tells Steve how much he enjoyed attending the Phillies' game with Steve, and he should have been watching Steve's games. Suggesting that perhaps he could be Steve's coach, and help him improve on his already good pitching. Touched by his father's love, Steve reasons, "With that man---well, the cap was just something he could buy, eh, Dad?" For the Hudsons, the cap is simply an economic issue; now for Dave and Steve, it has joined them together in a dream and in a loving father-son relationship. Dave feels "humbled , then strangely exalted."

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