Dad tells Kenny that
"there are some things that Byron has to learn and he's not learning them in Flint, and the things he is learning are things we don't want him to".
Byron is rebellious, and is learning to defy his parents and follow the bad influences of his peers, especially Buphead. Byron is a bully, and although he has not gotten into really serious trouble yet, he is headed in that direction. Momma and Dad have tried everything to get their oldest son to clean up his act, but to no avail. Dad tells Kenny,
"there're so many things that can go wrong to a young person and Byron seems bound and determined to find every one of them...the temptations are just too much for By...in Flint. So hopefully, the slower pace in Alabama will help him by removing some of those temptations".
Dad and Momma are especially concerned about Byron's refusal to act responsibly because of the climate of the times. The story takes place in 1963, when the Civil Rights Movement is just getting into gear. There is a lot of bad feeling for African Americans who are struggling for their rights; it is a dangerous time for a young black boy to be growing up in America. Dad and Momma know that Byron's road through life will be especially difficult in these times because of the color of his skin, and they want him to be able to face the challenges with wisdom, strength, and responsibility, all qualities which he does not seem very interested in developing right now. Dad explains to Kenny,
"Byron is getting old enough to have to understand that his time for playing is running out fast, he's got to realize the world doesn't have a lot of jokes waiting for him. He's got to be ready" (Chapter 9).