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Born a Crime
Terms in this set (73)
What role did church play in Trevor's upbringing?
Mother was a super Christian. They went to 3 churches each Sunday- mixed church, white church and black church.
What is Trevor's mother like, based on his descriptions?
Stubborn, Christian, determined and fierce. She is not afraid of the war going on outside her home and insists in going about her normal business, despite the danger.
How did Trevor end up being thrown from the mini-bus?
He, his mother and his baby brother hitchhiked home from church. The driver of the car that they were in was harassed by the mini bus driver, so they accepted a ride with the mini bus driver. The mini bus driver harassed Trevor's mother and threatened to harm her, so his mother pushed him out of the bus and jumped out herself, while shielding his baby brother.
According to Noah, how did apartheid come about?
When the British Empire fell, the Afrikaner came back to claim South Africa as their rightful inheritance. They went around the world to study institutionalized racism all over the world and they came up with the most advanced system of racial oppression known to man.
How did Trevor's mother, Patricia, find a place to live in Johannesburg?
She met fellow Xhosa women who taught her how to get around; she dressed in maid's overalls and rented a flat from a Swiss/German expat named Robert.
What was life like for Trevor as a child in Johannesburg and in Soweto?
His existence was illegal. Whenever he spent time with his father, he had to hide. In Johannesburg, when he went walking with his parents, his mother and father had to walk on opposite sides of the street. In Soweto, his grandmother kept him indoors for the fear that he would be taken away or she would be turned in.
Explain Trevor's experience growing up "in a world run by women."
He could only see his father when apartheid allowed it. The only other man in his life was his grandfather, who was divorced from his grandmother and rarely came around. The other neighborhood children were being raised by the women, too, because their fathers had been sent to prison, or were off working in a mine, or in exile, fighting the cause.
He calls it a "prison designed by our oppressors." It had an aspirational quality and a dream to "transform the ghetto." There were no paved roads, minimal electricity, and inadequate sewerage. There was a black market economy and informal grocery stores, where people would buy wholesale, sell piecemeal.
What happened when Trevor decided to use the bathroom on the floor in his house
instead of using the public outhouse?
His great grandmother Koko hears him doing it, but he does not answer her. She thinks that the house has been invaded by something evil and calls in the all of the praying ladies of the neighborhood to pray for the house and pray away the demon. Trevor prays also, and he feels guilty for what he's done.
After he injured his cousin, Bulelwa's ear, why did Bulelwa and the other cousins get punished, while Trevor did not?
His grandmother said she could not hit a white child; she was afraid of the colors (bruising) that happened when he was hit.
What are some other perks that Trevor experienced for being "white"?
He was given a warning while his black cousins were punished. People on the street would call him "the white man" and run away. At a funeral, he was chosen to eat indoors because only the family and white folks were allowed to eat indoors.
Describe Trevor's experience at the Maryvale College School and at then at the H.A.
Jack Primary School. How were these experiences different?
At Maryvale, there was no racial separation. The cliques were racially mixed. He felt that this school was great, but it sheltered him from reality. At H.A. Jack, he tested into the A (smart) classes and he was with mostly white students. At recess, he realized that the school was mostly black students, but these students were in the B classes. He liked the black kids more, so he decided to drop down to the B classes to be with kids he liked. H.A. Jack showed him how the real world was and how people divided themselves by race.
Describe Patricia's upbringing.
She was a tomboy and stubborn. She was the middle child and wanted to live with her father, but her father did not want her, so she was sent away to live with her aunt, in a hut with 14 cousins. She worked the farm and often had little to eat. But, she went to a mission school and learned English. She got a job as a seamstress and then as a secretary and she moved back in with her mother when her aunt fell ill. However, all of her income went to her mother.
How did Trevor's life change when he and his mother moved to Eden Park?
They moved into a house and he had his own room and they got a car.
What kinds of things does Patricia do to fulfill her desire: "I'm going to give you
everything I never had?"
She takes him out exploring, in places black people would never go. He is told that many of the experiences he had were for whites only- the movie theater, the ice skating rink. She tells him she will: "feed your body, feed your spirit, feed your mind." She bought Trevor books. She raised him with no limitations on where he could go or what he could do.
Trevor describes himself as a "hyperactive" kid. Explain some things that he does live
up to this description.
As a toddler, he would run into the road if someone was not holding his hand. He would leave babysitters in tears. His mom would run him in a park with a Frisbee and a ball to wear him out. He was naughty at school; he emptied the fire extinguisher into the school piano and took all the magnifying glasses out of the overhead projectors. He created his own fireworks. He burned down his mom's boyfriend's house.
Trevor describes his relationship with his mom "like the relationship between a cop and a
criminal in the movies." Describe what he means.
They were bitter rivals who respected each other's abilities. He gives an example of wanting a toffee apple & how he thinks he tricks his mom into buying it for him, and then she tricks him into not getting it. He references the letters they write each other back and forth. This was his mom's idea so that she did not have to debate him.
Describe the incident with the Catholic Eucharist.
He was not allowed to have the Eucharist (grape juice and crackers) at mass because he was not Catholic. One day, he snuck in and ate the entire bag of crackers and drank the entire bottle of juice. He didn't view it as breaking the rules because the rules didn't make any sense.
What happened to Trevor's 2 black cats and why?
They came home one day to find the cats strung up by their tails, gutted and skinned. People believed that having black cats meant you were a witch.
Describe the story of Fufi escaping.
Fufi was Trevor's dog and she was deaf. She would escape out of the fence in their yard. One day, Trevor followed her and realized that she went into another person's yard. When he asked the family for his dog back, they claimed it was their dog. Finally, his mom paid the family 100 rand for the dog.
What were some experiences Trevor have with his dad when he was a young boy?
He visited him every Sunday afternoon. They watched Formula 1 racing. He celebrated his birthday and Christmas with his dad every year. He'd cook his favorite meal, Rosti.
How did Trevor contact his dad later in life?
He wrote to the Swiss Embassy and they delivered a letter to his dad.
What was it like for Trevor to see his dad later in life?
They picked up where they left off. His dad showed him that he had a photo album and it was a scrapbook of everything Trevor had done. He'd been following him from a distance.
Why does Trevor say "I was the anomaly wherever we lived?" Explain what he means.
When he lived in a white area, no one looked like him. When he lived in a colored area, he felt like he could not have been more different from his neighbors. He was colored by complexion but not by color.
Describe the mulberry tree story.
When Trevor was eating berries from a mulberry bush, he was beat up by some kids who made fun him. He decided to tell his mom's boyfriend, Abel, about what happened and Abel went out, found the kids and beat them up. Trevor realized he had gone too far by telling Abel (who was a drunk and abusive), and he realized how much he and the boy had in common.
Tell the story of what happened with Maylene and Valentine's Day. What did Trevor
learn though this experience?
Trevor was friends with Maylene, a girl who looked "colored" like him. His friends convinced him that he should ask Maylene to be his girlfriend for Valentine's Day. He did, and she said yes. He was so excited because he had never had a girlfriend before. He made her a Valentine's gift and when he gave it to her, she told him that she could not be his girlfriend anymore because Lorenzo (a much more popular boy) had asked her to be his Valentine. Trevor accepted that this was just the way it was. Girls would always pick more popular and attractive boys.
What was Trevor's new school, Sandringham, like?
It was a model C school and not a government school. It was a mix of a government and private school, kind of like charter schools in America. It had thousands of kids, sports fields and a swimming pool.
How did Trevor find his niche at Sandringham?
He started a little business getting food for people from the Tuck shop because he was the fastest kid and could run there before anyone else could. He also realized that he was a funny kid, and with humor he could be a part of any group that was laughing.
What happened with Trevor's crush on Zaheera? What did he learn through this
He had a crush on her and had a goal of taking her to the matric dance, which was like his senior prom. He was trying to play the "long game" since he did not have much confidence in getting a girl. He became good friends with her, got her phone number and talked on the phone with her. He felt his plan was working, but then one day he found out that Zaheera had moved to America and she had had a crush on him the whole time. He realized that he could have asked her to be his girlfriend, and it might have changed his life.
Who is Teddy and how does Trevor get into mischief with him? What is the outcome of
their run-in with the police?
Teddy is Trevor's friend from school. Trevor became "thick as thieves" with Teddy. Teddy's mom worked as a domestic. As friends, they did a lot of walking around Johannesburg together. They would wander around the mall. At the mall, they realized they could steal chocolates filled with alcohol from the stationary shop. One night, they were caught stealing and they ran from a cop. On the chase, they turned in different directions and Teddy was caught but Trevor was not; Teddy was arrested. Everyone tried to figure out who was with Teddy during the shoplifting incident, but no one concluded that it was Trevor. (He lied about the incident.) At school, administrators brought Trevor to the office to show him video footage of the incident, but since the footage made it look like a white kid was with Teddy, Trevor got away with shoplifting without being punished.
What did Tom promise Trevor?
He promised that if Trevor gave him a better cut on the cd's he was selling, he could get him a date to the dance with the most beautiful girl ever.
What happened when Trevor took Babiki to the school dance? What did he learn from
To go to the dance, his mom gave him money to buy new clothes, and he had his hair done. He convinced his stepfather, Abel, to loan him a fancy car (but that fell through). On the way to the dance, he was very late to pick up Babiki and she was angry. At the dance, she refused to get out of the car, so he did not get to go to the dance. Trevor realized that Babiki did not speak English. (But she did end up giving him a kiss at the end of the night.)
Why does Trevor say that having money was the most liberating feeling in the world?
What does he mean?
He found that money gave him choices and that the richer you are, the more choices you have. He found that money gives you that kind of freedom.
How does Trevor become a dj?
He was making mix cd's with a cd writer gifted to him from his friend Bolo. His friend Bongani convinced him that no one had seen a dj playing on a computer before. So, they started dj'ing gigs in the neighborhood, and then they added their friend Hitler as a dancer.
What happened when Trevor was asked to dj at a cultural program at the King David
They were playing and dancing and telling the kids and teachers to chant "Go Hitler" to support their friend Hitler, who was dancing. A teacher ran up and pulled the plug on their performance. The teacher yelled at him and he yelled back at her (because he did not understand why she was so upset) and so his group danced and fist-pumped with pride out of the school.
Describe Alex. Why does Trevor call it "the hood?"
The bus station is a bustling, chaotic, 3rd world marketplace. It's constant activity, and lots of people hustling. Trash is everywhere. Most people in Alex were poor, and were trying to make a living. He said "You see everything happening in the streets."
What does it mean to be a "cheese boy?"
The ultimate upgrade for Trevor and his friends was to throw a slice of cheese on what you were eating. Being a "cheese boy" meant you had a little money and you were living the good life.
What are the different "degrees of crime" that Trevor describes?
Crime ranges from a mom buying food off of the back of a truck to feed her family, all the way to gangs selling military weapons. You can be barely involved in crime and not even know, or fully, knowingly participate in it.
What type of business does Trevor run in the hood?
He starts out selling pirated cds. He and Bongani start letting the minibus drivers buy cds on credit and they collect interest. They start loaning people money and collecting interest. Then, they get involved in the haggling going on as people try to buy things. Trevor describes his business on page 213: "It turned out that we were selling cds and djing parties in order to capitalize a pay-lending and pawnshop operation in the hood."
How did Trevor lose his music?
He was djing a party when the cops came in because of a noise complaint. They told him to shut down the music and when he started shutting it down, they shot the computer monitor.
What stolen item eventually made Trevor want to stop selling stolen goods?
A digital camera with pictures of a white family's vacation.
Why was Trevor arrested?
For suspicion of grand theft auto.
What was Trevor's time in jail like?
His belt, wallet and shoelaces were taken. He tried to play up the stereotype of the colored gangster. He actually found the food to be pretty good. He made friends with a large, dark-skinned man who seemed pretty frightening at first. He learned the man's life story and felt terrible for him.
How did Trevor get out of jail?
The cop connected him with a lawyer. His mother paid the lawyer's fees and his bail. His lawyer helps get him out of jail on bail.
How did Patricia's relationship with Abel begin?
Down the street from Trevor's dads' house was a garage called Mighty Mechanics, and his mom would always take the car there to be repaired. That's where Abel worked. He was charming and funny. He became Patricia's boyfriend and he came to live with them. Later, they got married.
What was Abel's family like? What did Patricia think of the family culture?
They lived in Tzaneen, a Tsonga homeland. Tsonga culture was extremely patriarchal. Women were required to bow to a man to greet him. His mother did not like being there and mocked the culture. After the first trip there, Patricia said she wouldn't go back.
Describe the first instance of Abel's abuse.
Abel came home drunk, and he tried to cook food, but passed out before the food was cooked. He set the house on fire. Patricia called her mom and told her "this man, he's going to kill us one day." Patricia and Abel started arguing because Abel did not want her to tell people about what happened in their house. He thought she wasn't respecting him and he hit her.
How did Trevor respond when Abel hit him for forging his mother's signature?
He found it to be the most terrifying thing. He didn't feel that anything about the "discipline" was coming out of a place of love. He escaped from the room where Abel was beating him and he ran and ran. He found a hiding place and hid there for hours. From that day on, Trevor said he lived "like a mouse in the house." He decided he would never be in the same room as Abel ever again.
Describe the incident when Abel shoots Patricia.
Patricia was coming home from church with Andrew and Isaac and her new husband and his family. They pulled into the driveway and Abel pulled up and got out of the car with a gun. He told her "you've stolen my life. You've taken everything away from me. Now, I'm going to kill all of you." Andrew stepped in front of his mother, and then Abel told him to step aside. Abel shot Patricia ***********, then the gun misfired a couple of times. She was able to get in the car, and then he shot her in the back of the head. Andrew put his mom's body in the passenger seat and drove her to the hospital.
Why did the doctor call what happened a miracle? Why does Trevor's mom believe she
The bullet that went through her head missed her spinal cord and her brain and came out her nose. Trevor's mom prayed, and that's when the gun misfired. She believed her prayer saved her.
What name has Trevor given his dog who is deaf and dumb?
When Trevor is a young child and defecates on the floor, who does he realize is in the room with him?
For what reason is Trevor urged to leave the Catholic school when he's in the sixth grade?
He consumes the Eucharistic crackers and grape juice.
In what community, designed by South African leaders only for black people to live in, does Trevor's extended family live?
Why did Trevor's date with Bibiki turn out so terribly?
Bibiki didn't speak the same languages as Trevor.
What event in Trevor's childhood most cemented his reputation as a "naughty child"?
He accidentally burned down a white family's house.
When Trevor claims that he was "born a crime," what does he mean?
He was illegally conceived by a mixed race couple.
How did Trevor, his mother, and his younger brother Andrew escape from the violent minibus driver?
They jumped out of the car and ran away.
When Trevor goes to attend school at the H.A. Jack Primary School, why did he not take the advanced track of classes?
He identifies himself as being black and does not feel comfortable in classes without black students.
How does Trevor's family respond after they find his feces in the trash?
His mother blames a demon instead of Trevor and holds an impromptu prayer meeting.
Why does Abel's auto business fail?
Abel is an alcoholic who wastes any profits by drinking.
What South African languages does Trevor speak?
Because Trevor was quicker than his mother during an argument, how did they communicate about disciplinary matters when he was a child?
They exchanged well-argued letters.
When does Trevor first begin to realize that Abel has uncontrollable violent tendencies?
When he beats up a twelve-year-old.
Who was Trevor's friend--and often accomplice in committing pranks--who took the rap for their shoplifting together in the mall?
What was the great talent of Trevor's friend Hitler?
What did Trevor's friend Andrew do for him that changed his life?
He gave Trevor a CD burner which allowed him to make money.
What was the term for young people in the Alex neighborhood (which Trevor calls the hood of Johannesburg) who were relatively well-off and could someday have the option to leave?
The Cheese Boys
What does Trevor do that gets him caught in jail for a week?
He is stopped while driving a car with the wrong license plate which is not his.
How is Trevor able to become friends with the scary Hulk who is imprisoned in the same jail cell as him?
Trevor is the only person in the cell who can speak the Hulk's Tsonga language.
What is the name of Trevor's youngest brother who is the child of Abel?
What is the 'miracle' experienced by Trevor's mother at the end of the book?
She survives a bullet wound through the back of her head and fully recovers.
What made Trevor such a successful DJ in Johannesburg?
He had a much larger store of music on his computer than other DJs.
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