The narrator is an eighteen-year-old boy who is in High School. He is a member of a gang with several others. He is a not as tough as the other members because he is feeling guilty and does not look forward to tease the fat kid, while the rest of gang members have another thought in their heads. They are looking forward to humiliate the fat kid. The conflict for the narrator is defined as a struggle between two opposing forces. He has to be a part of the teasing and the cruelty because of the gang, even though he does not want to be a part of the cruelty, so he is kind of trapped. He cannot combine his thoughts and feelings into his actions.
The reason why the narrator does not say anything is that he is afraid of losing his friends. The members of the gang is his social environment. “Miles Morgan, Ronnie Dougan, Terrance “Terry” Smalls and Jay O’Neal were my friends, my family, my brothers.” He sees them as the only people he can count on. If he choose to speak up and they do not like what they hear, then he ends up with nothing but his loneliness. Nobody wants to be alone, especially not when you have the decision of either having friends and support or to lose it all, so even though he knows it is wrong he chooses to feel guilty and to value what he has.
The theme of the story is peer pressure. In a gang, it is unfortunately impossible to have an opinion. The story shows an example of how feelings cannot be included in actions. The narrator has to be a part of the cruelty. It can be worse in some gangs. For example in MS-13, when a person wants to join them, he or she has to either get beaten up or raped and afterwards the leaders will order him or her to kill someone. When you finally get in, there is no turning back. If you get an order to do something, then you have to do it, otherwise you will get in trouble. This is all because of the peer pressure. The narrator feels guilty because of what he is doing – but no matter what, his feelings lose influence on what he is doing due to peer pressure.