Violence and Cruelty is a reoccurring idea in the story. Through his experiences, the boy learns about the capacity for violence and cruelty in others as well as himself. He observes and endures constant brutality and horror as he struggles to survive. In his search for some measure of control over his life in this atmosphere, he discovers his own ability for cruelty. He comes to the realization that to survive in his harsh environment, he must become as vulgar as the others in his world.