Born a Crime Themes
by Trevor Noah

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Born a Crime Themes

The themes of Born a Crime include racism, abuse, and the strength that comes from faith and love.

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Racism is a major theme in the novel. Trevor Noah grew up in South Africa, the son of a black mother and a white father. A lot of his life and the life of his mother is defined by negative attitudes about their skin color. They're judged by those around them, kept from certain opportunities, and forced to live or socialize only in certain places. Apartheid ended during Trevor's first ten years.

Abuse is another theme. Patricia is in an abusive relationship with her husband Abel. Trevor becomes isolated from her because she won't leave him, though he eventually begins to understand why doing so is difficult for her. She says that if she leaves, he'll kill her. He does eventually almost kill her anyway when he shoots her in the head.

The strength that comes from faith and love is best reflected in Trevor's mother, Patricia. He clearly admires her a great deal. She always takes a positive attitude and approach toward things because of her faith in God and her love for her family. These things keep her laughing even when she wakes up in her hospital bed and tells Trevor that now he's the most attractive one in the family.


Born A Crime: Stories from a South-African Childhood is a memoir documenting the life of comedian Trevor Noah. While it mostly deals with racism, it also covers themes of mother-son relationships, humor, growing up with racism, and systematic oppression due to race.

Throughout his memoir, Noah talks about his experiences growing up with his mother in a community very much divided by race. Raised by his mother, he remains close to her to this day, and it is this closeness that has a major impact on him as a child and as an adult.

Noah is mix-raced and goes into depth about how he gained certain advantages due to his lighter skin, but was in many ways rejected by others because he wasn't "dark enough." This experience as an adolescent opened his eyes to the reality of racial oppression and how rampant this oppression was, even in a place where white people...

(The entire section is 563 words.)