Why did Mark steal the principal's car in That Was Then, This Is Now?

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dymatsuoka eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mark is on probation for car stealing, and has been sentenced to meet with his probation officer once a week during his lunch hour at school.  The problem is, Mark has no way of getting downtown for his weekly appointment, as the buses are not running at that hour and there is not enough time to walk.  Ever practical, Mark, an expert at hot-wiring, "borrows" the principal's car every week, drives down to see his probation officer, and reparks the car in its original parking space when he returns.  He has been doing this all year, and except for the fact that the principal had to leave school early one day, might never have been caught.

In Mark's pragmatic, asocial way of thinking, "borrowing" the principal's car in this manner makes perfect sense.  He needs a ride downtown, and the car is available.  The irony, of course, is that he is essentially stealing a car to report to his probation officer each week that he has seen the error of his ways and will steal no more.  Mark has an amazing ability to get away with things; his irresponsible way of looking at things is completely genuine, and even those in the highest reaches of authority often do nothing more in response than throw up their hands in helplessness.  Mark's oblivious approach to life, however, is like a ticking bomb.  It is only a matter of time before he will have to suffer the consequences of his unconventional actions in the line of stealing the principal's car (Chapter 4).