Eddie's parents are so angrily involved in their own conflicts that they neglect him emotionally and verbally abuse him. Steve comes from a loving family whose high standards and strict discipline are sometimes at odds with what he feels to be fair. Mistreated once again by his mother, Eddie stays away from school until he can find Steve. The boys go to Steve's house to play, but Steve's mother interrupts their games to make Steve clean the bathroom. Matching their grievances, the boys decide to run away that night. When they meet at the appointed place, Steve tells Eddie that he has changed his mind "because my mother would worry about me." Angered by his friend's betrayal, Eddie belligerently calls him "chicken," but his anger soon turns into desolation.