[T]he kids these days aren't interested in learning to fight. It's hard work. Nobody wants to work no more. Who knows, maybe they're right.

In chapter 10, Mr. Epstein tries to talk Alfred out of boxing, largely because he feels the sport has been corrupted. He also expresses a concern pertaining to his relationship with Alfred about the laziness of kids in modern times. Mr. Epstein is talking about James, Major, and Hollis—kids who would rather break into stores than earn money by working. These are kids who would rather do drugs than go to school, and they reflect badly not only upon Alfred, but also upon teenagers in general. In order to regain trust and a bond with Mr. Epstein, Alfred first has to prove that he is not one of the average kids who does not want to work.