Why did Zero steal the pair of shoes?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Zero, a homeless boy who is unable to provide an income for himself, steals a pair of shoes in order to provide for his basic needs. In a world in which property and business are often more important than living beings having their basic needs met, Zero must resort to stealing to survive. Zero unfortunately is arrested for taking the shoes and is sent to an immensely abusive camp in which children, who are often victims of abuse and societal neglect, are further abused and forced to work. While this is a fictional tale, both the reality of Zero's life and the reality of incredibly abusive camps for convicted teens are actual circumstances in our world. Zero is punished for navigating and surviving in a world that has been, all too often, very unkind to him.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Hector Zeroni, also called "Zero," is one of the boys who lives and works at a camp for troubled youth. All of the young people at this camp were sent their for having been convicted of a crime or causing some disturbance in their home life. Before coming to Camp Green Lake, Zero was homeless and did not have the money or opportunity to meet his own basic needs. Without the money to buy a new pair of shoes, Zero resorted to stealing what he thought was a very old, but usable, pair of sneakers. Because Zero could not read, he did not understand the sign which explained that the shoes once belonged to a famous basketball player and were now intended to be auctioned off to benefit the homeless shelter. 

When Zero realized that the shoes he had stolen were so important to the shelter, he took them off and left them outside on top of a car. The next day, he was arrested for stealing a different pair of shoes, and he was sent to Camp Green Lake.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial