Mike Chambers is the young gang member from a different neighborhood who is badly beaten by a group of black people. Mike stops to help a black girl who is being threatened by white teens and drives her home. But when he stops his car, he is accosted by her friends. When they ask her if he has hurt her, she nods and says, "Kill the bastard."
Bryon is enthralled by the story and remarks, "That's a rotten thing to happen to anybody." Mark, who has already met Mike in the hospital and has gone to buy him comics, agrees. "It sure is," he says. But when the two friends leave the hospital room,
As we got into the elevator Mark said, "I'm inclined to agree with his old man. That is one stupid guy."
"You mean it?" I said. I had been thinking about Mike's story, and I could see his point about not hating the people who beat him up.
"Yeah, I mean it. Man, if anybody ever hurt me like that I'd hate them for the rest of my life."
I didn't think much about that statement then. But later I would--I still do. I think about it and think about it until I think I'm going crazy.
Mark and Mike's father both agree that Mike is "dumb" not to hate the people responsible for his beating. This attitude plays a major part in the final scenes of the novel when Mark and Bryon part ways.