Stanley was not a bad kid. He was innocent of the crime for which he was convicted. He’d just been in the wrong place at the wrong time . . . Whenever anything went wrong, they always blamed Stanley’s no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather.
Early in the story, the narrator explains that Stanley’s conviction of a crime he didn’t commit owed to circumstances beyond his control. The theme of fate intertwines itself throughout this novel as Stanley’s family ascribe the bad things that happen to them to the curse of Stanley’s great-great-grandfather. By blaming the circumstance on a curse and an ancestor, the characters present the theme of fate and how the idea of fate plays a role in Stanley’s approach to his life.
When the shoes first fell from the sky, he remembered thinking that destiny had struck him. Now, he thought so again. It was more than coincidence. It had to be destiny.
In this scene, Stanley and Zero recover from their escape from Camp Green Lake at Big Thumb after discovering some ground water and an onion field on the mountain. As they rest, Stanley connects the dots from the stolen sneakers falling on him as he walked from beneath a freeway overpass to Zero’s revelation of his role in putting the shoes on the car. In this reflection, Stanley revisits the theme of fate, identifying how Zero’s connection to the sneaker theft only further proves the existence of destiny in Stanley’s life. Stanley seems grateful for the “coincidence,” as he recognizes how these circumstances have transformed his character.
Stanley’s mother insists that there never was a curse. She even doubts whether Stanley’s great-great-grandfather really stole a pig. The reader might find it interesting, however, that Stanley’s father invented his cure for foot odor the day after the great-great-grandson of Elya Yelnats carried the great-great-great-grandson of Madame Zeroni up the mountain.
The narrator wraps up the story line, explaining how characters and events connect. This quote highlights the theme of fate as the narrator links the event of Stanley carrying Zero up the mountain to the long-awaited success of Stanley’s father. Furthermore, the connection between Stanley and Zero’s family histories directly highlights the role fate seems to have played in the characters’ lives. While Stanley’s mother questions the curse’s existence, Stanley and Zero’s destiny to help one another reverses the curse of their relatives from so many years ago.