Study Guide

Punkzilla Criminality

By Adam Rapp

Criminality

He would give me twenty bucks for every iPod. I would jump joggers in Forest Park which is this big woodland preserve with all these trails and tons of trees. (1.17)

What Jamie does is awful, but it's more awful that Fat Larkin pays him to do it. Sending kids to jump someone is somehow even worse than jumping them yourself.

I heard once how if you have no shame for your bad deeds that it means you're insane. Maybe my heart has an infection in it or something or maybe when I was a baby I had some weird fever that killed part of my conscience? (1.18)

Survival sometimes necessitates a shutdown of conscience, as wrong as that is. Compound the need for survival with a big dose of anger, and you've got Jamie.

I mean I know I have ADD and I know I smoke maybe too much pot and I know I got busted stealing that DVD player in the back of the Service Merchandise and I know the Major hates me and I know all of this makes me like public enemy number one and that I totally deserved to get sent to Buckner. (1.33)

Jamie was already stealing before he got to Portland, but Portland is where it turned violent. Take note, budding writers: Your characters' circumstances up their stakes.

[…] Branson told me how he had a room at Washington House and how the top bunk was open because his boy Tom-Tom just got caught selling digital cameras out of the back of a U-Haul and how Tom-Tom got sent to some juvy home in Corvallis where they put a computer chip in your arm. (5.93)

The part about the computer chip would be highly illegal, but Branson operates in a world in which highly illegal stuff happens on a daily basis.

She said I was more than welcome to use her cell phone and she had an iPhone and as soon as she held it up I had this instinct to take it P like thieving is in my blood now. (8.46)

Fortunately, Jamie redirects his thievery to Sam's backpack instead of Sam's mom's cell phone. It's still not right, but swiping a kid's backpack full of underwear is less traumatic than, say, beating up his mom.

That's when I grabbed his book bag. P you can call me a thief but that would be lame because you've known that about me for a while now. You'd have to call me something else to be original like a marauder. A marauder or like a bandit. (8.58)

If you know the word "marauder," you have no business being one. You should probably be writing instead. P manages to tell Jamie that—although not in those exact words—before his death.

Plus he used so much punctuation which I am bad at I admit like especially with commas. I never know where they're supposed to go or how many you're supposed to use so I pretty much just leave them out. I guess that makes me a grammar bandit too. (8.71)

What Jamie lacks in punctuation skills, he makes up for in voice. Here at Shmoop, we're all about the punctuation, but we're even more about good literature—which, as Punkzilla proves, doesn't always need commas.

I was starting to get a little worried that that dude with the mustache at the Best Western was going to come over and make me pay for my room and look in my book bag at all the stuff I stole and call the cops or something. (15.24)

Jamie scores a free room at Best Western through a combination of lying and employee oversight, but a stolen backpack carries a lot of weight. Paranoia is heavy.

The smiling man led me to a back room which had this big gray backdrop thing and some pretty nice-looking camera equipment like the kind of stuff you could sell on eBay. (15.34)

Here Jamie is, at the mercy of a dubious photographer, and he's thinking about stealing the camera equipment. General life rule: Escaping shade trumps making money.

I realize I am digging my own grave by not taking my medication and being a truant (that's the official word right?) but I'm learning a lot about the world and life in general. (22.8)

Add one more to the list of psych med regimens waylaid by a desire for adventure. The lure of the unknown leads too many people with hyperactivity and mania to toss the drugs that even out their moods, often with disastrous consequences.