As the novel opens, James Mosely is Alfred's lifetime best friend. However, James has already started on a path opposite Alfred's. In the novel's first chapter, James joins Major and the gang in an attempted burglary of Epsteins' grocery. Although Alfred inadvertently tells the gang that cash may be in the register overnight, he flatly refuses to go along. James does, however, and is arrested during the break-in.Most significant is James' embodiment of another theme of the novel: hope versus despair. While Alfred hopes for a better life, James has already given up. He despairs. When we see him at the Friday night clubroom party near the end of Chapter 11, he is in the throes of drug abuse. His teeth are yellow with neglect. His face is thin and his eyes sunken. He speaks as though he is stoned.
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