When it comes to the word “family”, many different things come to mind, especially the bond between children and their parents.  For some, family comes to mind when they think of dinner every night together and how involved their parents are in their lives. 

Someone else may think of family as people living together, and relying on each other within an economic relationship, but nothing more than that.  Although all families are different and unique, most have very similar conflicts along with comparable relationships.

In the short story A Cap for Steve, there is a father and son relationship that most people are familiar with.  Dave Diamond, the father, is a poor, quick-tempered man who knows the true value of money and knows how to make every dollar count. 

His son Steve is a shy twelve-year-old boy, who has a true passion for baseball.  Dave and Steve do not see eye to eye on many things, which puts a strain on their relationship.  Although Steve understands the importance of money, he can see past it.  Dave, however, is stricken by the power of money and power, and his pride is very important to him. 

A Cap for Steve is a story of growth and disappointment.  This story illustrates Steve’s first situation with major disillusion particularly dealing with his father.  Steve has a lot of hope and faith for his father, who ends up letting him down.  Both characters grow substantially throughout the story, along with the strength of their relationship. 

In the short story, A Cap for Steve, Callaghan uses the story to show the power of money and pride, which opens our eyes to the disillusionment of a young boy and leads to the growth of his father.

Throughout the story, the power of money and pride has a large effect on the protagonist Dave, and changes his behavior whenever money is apparent.  Money is mentioned in the first sentence of the story and is an important component throughout.  It is used in the beginning to develop the protagonist’s character, Dave Diamond. 

A personality trait of his is that “he knows how to make every dollar count”.From the very beginning, Callaghan clearly shows the importance of money to him.  Dave works hard for every nickel and knows the true value of it.  He works very hard to make ends meet and does not give himself many breaks.  Along with the value of money, Dave’s pride is also significant. 

His pride is first hurt during his encounter with Mr. Hudson. Mr. Hudson is the father of the boy who bought Steve’s Phillies’ cap from someone else.  Steve accuses the boy of stealing his hat and demands that he return it.  Steve and Dave are then invited to meet Mr. Hudson so they can work everything out. 

When Dave is introduced to Mr. Hudson, he is almost immediately intimidated by him.  Mr. Hudson is a powerful lawyer, who lives in the nice apartments across the park.  Although the dialogue between them is civil and friendly, Mr. Hudson has a demeaning undertone to much of what he says, and Dave is aware of it. 

The word “shrewd” is used more than once to describe Mr. Hudson.  He took one look at Dave and knew that he was poor and that he could buy the hat back from him.  Although Dave held his ground in the beginning, he could not refuse the twenty dollars.  He looked to his son for the decision of whether or not to take the money but was blocked by the power of the money to see Steve’s true feelings. 

Morley Callaghan’s A Cap for Steve: Themes & Thesis

Dave thought his son felt the same amazement and excitement when Mr. Hudson offered the twenty dollars.  He let the money get the best of him, and he chose the modest sum of money over his son’s happiness. 

Although Dave saw both sides to every argument, in this story the option of more money prevailed and his pride was crucial to every decision made.

In this story, Steve is disillusioned with his father for the first time, and the young boy begins his maturation.  From the beginning, Steve looked up to his father and was terrified by the entire situation.  Dave knew that his son was counting on him, but in the end, Dave shattered all the hope that Steve had. 

Steve made it clear the importance of his cap, and from the beginning, his father failed to see it.  After the Mr. Hudson incident, Steve told his father that he never wanted to be like him, which was when Dave truly understood the significance of what had just happened, and how much he hurt his son.  Many boys look to their father as somewhat of a hero, and, in Steve’s eyes, his father ruined his heroic reputation. 

Another instance where Steve was faced with disillusion was again with Mr. Hudson.  In the beginning, the author stated that Steve, “ought to know the value of money” because of how influenced he was by his father.  Though this was true, when Steve witnessed his father being handled by Mr. Hudson, he saw the true power of money, and how much more power Mr. Hudson had. 

Steve saw the power of authority and was scared from the start.  He understood now that in many cases the best man does not necessarily win, but instead the wealthier man.  Steve’s character broke from innocence from both of these situations and substantially grew.  He went from a quiet, shy boy, to someone who could express his feelings and stand up to his father. 

He felt great disappointment surrounding the Phillies’ cap, and Dave could not understand the importance of it to him.  Dave thought all of the enchantment his son found through the cap was childish, and he did not understand his son’s true passion for it until the end.  The cap was priceless to Steve, not only because of where it came from, but what it meant. 

With a cap comes authority, power, and leadership, and Steve for the first time had these three things.  People in the neighborhood looked at him differently, which was why part of him had been ripped out when his father sold the hat.  For twenty dollars he lost one of the most important things to him and he was struck with disappointment. 

Things that may seem unimportant to some people are other people’s treasures, and Steve faced disillusion numerous times through this story over his Phillies’ cap.

Growth can happen at any age, and although Dave was a fully grown man with a job and family, his young son teaches him a lot throughout this story.  From the beginning, there was an apparent strain between Dave and Steve.  Steve looked to his father for help and understanding, but Dave did not realize this until the end. 

Morley Callaghan "They Shall Inherit the Earth": Summary & Analysis

Dave called his son childish, careless and was very irritated by his behavior.  Dave did not have a proper understanding of his son until the end of the story which made their relationship grow.  Dave saw how much he hurt his son, and so he changed his approach.  He realized how much time he was missing out on with his son, so he went and apologized to him.  His apology led them to talk about spending more quality time and ended the story on a good note.  

The atmosphere went from dark to light, and there was finally some happiness in the story.  Along with the growth of their relationship, Dave also matured.  Some of the personality traits that were evident at the beginning of the story were much more hidden in the end.  Dave was seen as a jealous man from the very beginning.  It first began with jealousy towards Mr. Condon, the Phillies’ baseball player.  He saw how his son worshiped Mr. Condon, and the wealth that he had, and Dave envied him. 

Every father wants to be their son’s hero, and in this situation, Dave saw something different.  Dave was also jealous of Mr. Hudson but in a different way.  He was envious of his power and wealth, but not the relationship he had with his son.  Steve taught his father at the end of the story that their relationship can mean more than anything else. 

Steve opened his eyes to how blessed he is with his family, and that spending time with them is the most important thing.  Throughout the story, Dave sees Steve in many different lights, and in the end, he sees how much he has grown. 

Steve’s growth in turn helped Dave.  Dave considerably changes from the beginning of the story to the end, and Steve helps the growth process along.

In the short story, A Cap for Steve, Callaghan shows the impact of money and pride, the disenchantment that every child faces, and that growth can happen at any age. 

From the beginning to the end of the story, money is an evident theme.  Both Steve and Dave value money and struggle to make ends meet.  Steve is first faced with enchantment and then has it stolen twice from him.  He and his father grow substantially from one another, and through the situation, they went endured together.  

Their relationship changes and they grow closer than ever before.  This story shows the importance of a father in any child’s life and exemplifies that money is not everything. 

Sometimes children open the eyes of adults, and in A Cap for Steve, this is the case. Callaghan uses the bond of the family to tell a powerful story.  People all face some time of disenchantment with their parents and can relate.

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