What motivates Charlie to run?

Chapter 20

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The themes of poverty and ambition arise during the train ride to the Ballarat. Charlie’s poverty is highlighted by the well-dressed running club member who takes a seat across from him and complains that a ticket mix up meant he wasn’t traveling in the first-class carriage. Charlie speaks to the boy with sincerity, seeing only their common ambition as competitive runners; he naively asks if the boy also trains by catching rabbits, not realizing that rabbit catching is a poor person’s means of acquiring food. But the boy mocks the idea that Charlie could be a decent runner, saying he is happy to know there’s at least one runner he won’t have to worry about. I think Charlie is motivated to run to get out of poverty as well as validate his worth and identity. He would like to beat rich kids with fancy gear.