In examining the subject of youth homelessness, the author develops themes of the effects of abuse and neglect, the roots and consequences of rebelliousness, and the reality of hope and hopelessness. With the exception of Maggot, the members of the tribe are on the streets because they have nowhere else to go. Their family units are unbearable in their dysfunctionality; Rainbow has been sold for drugs, Maybe has been physically abused then discarded when she outgrows her usefulness as a babysitter; Jewel has been rejected by his middle-class parents who cannot accept his ambiguous sexual orientation, and Tears has been molested, then branded a liar for asking for help. As a result of their experiences, the kids all have an almost pathological distrust of anything offered to them by adults. Although Rainbow and 2Moro utilize the free clinic to get their "meds," for the most part the kids reject opportunities for placement with social services offering food and shelter, clinging stubbornly to their freedom to do what they want. Without exception, the tribe members are deeply suspicious about the motives of an establishment that has never given them a reason to trust it. There is no doubt that the virulent antipathy they express towards all forms of authority diminishes their chances of improving their situation, but their attitudes, though counterproductive, are at least understandable. When adults were in charge of their lives, unspeakable things happened to the kids; it makes complete sense that they believe that conditions can only be better if they themselves take and keep control of their lives. Maggot, the only tribe member who does not come from a background of unimaginable abuse and neglect, serves to represent the idea that youth homelessness stems from a variety of causes. He is in the minority, however; the overwhelming majority of the kids living on the streets are there because they are out of options.
Because they are so stunted emotionally,...
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