The narrator of McCall’s book undergoes a transformation of literacy when he becomes familiar with historical black authors while in prison, and changes his life to meet new goals in forming his life as an author. This is a book that deals deeply with three main themes: double standards (whites/blacks), internalized oppression vs. institutional discrimination (racism and classism are against McCall in the narrative), and labeling (because of his race and where he is from, the narrator is labeled as a deviant, and therefore perpetrates deviant behavior expected of him). Looking at these themes, one can also see how the work relates to socio economics and education.
The author McCall doesn’t get much from the educational system in his area. Instead, he learns through his peers. And in a world of oppression where young black males like McCall are often driven from conventional modes of opportunity and access to productive careers and college, McCall instead fell in with his peers, in an unstructured environment. “By the time I reached the 7th grade, Id learned that a dude s life had no meaning unless he hung with someone. I discovered the strength and solace in camaraderie. It was a confidence booster, a steady support for my fragile self-esteem” (McCall, 22). At this point, the narrator feels that society has already excluded him from the mainstream because he is African American, and so it makes him insecure and drives him to these bonds leading to heightened courage and anti-social behavior in McCall’s teen group. This is also related to education, as it has been found that white and Asian students tend to do better than African-American or Latino students or students in low socio economic areas (Singham, 2003). This is perhaps a reflection of a larger problem of opportunity, access, and structural inequality, which is also shown in McCall’s thought provoking work.
McCall’s story also addresses the problem of