Trevor is not only “born a crime,” as the title suggests, but he is also born an anomaly. Even once apartheid ends and he can move freely about society, he is ever the outsider. This ostracism is due to the fact that his skin color makes it difficult for Trevor to find acceptance within the racially divided groups that comprise his world.
As a young boy, Trevor spends much of his time indoors, often alone, because of his “criminal” status as a mixed-race child. A resourceful boy, he develops creative ways to entertain himself and is very introspective. Like many children in his community, he is raised by women. He is the only son for the first nine years of his life, and because of his light skin tone is often able to evade punishment from everyone except his mother. Trevor’s ability to avoid punishment turns to cockiness when he takes risks, first as a petty shoplifter at the mall, then as a paid errand runner at school, and later as a professional hustler “in the hood.” However, he is never condescending to others. Instead, his self-assuredness enables him to take social risks and approach groups that might otherwise write him off.
The outsider status Trevor holds is often painful, but it also lends him perspective that he might not have gained if he were too enmeshed in a particular social dynamic. This is the case when he hangs out with the cheese boys, a group with whom he finally feels at home. As he becomes more comfortable with his peers, he becomes even more comfortable with taking more dangerous risks. Ultimately, those risks are criminal and have consequences.
Despite his “naughty” behavior, Trevor charms most of the people around him. Unlike his grandfather and his stepfather, Trevor’s charm does not have a sinister ulterior motive. He is funny, smart, and connects with people in their own language. Even when he does things that enrage his mother, his actions primarily hurt himself. He is not actively seeking to upset Patricia; he simply cannot help himself and has the energy of someone waiting to realize their potential.