A couple of days after Micah receives the brochure from his brother, he calls Nicholas, confirming that he is joining his brother; Micah is more excited about the trip than Nicholas.
When the boys' father is accepted into a doctorate program at USC, the family moved to Los Angeles. The narrative contrasts the boys' parents and their relationship with their children. The Sparkses were living below poverty level, but the children were unaware of the fact at the time. The boys learn important life lessons about living independently from living in the projects. Then they move to Playa del Rey. One important memory was of Blackie the raven, when Micah saved Nicholas from the bird's attack.
Christine's understanding of Micah's need to spend time with his brother alludes to difficult times that they endure together, but instead of exploring that, the narrative flashes back to their growing up in L.A.
The brothers' mom often told them, "What you want and what you get are usually two entirely different things." And this reality is something that the boys still understand today. Micah's saving Nicholas from the pecking of the raven is another example of Micah being a superhero for his younger brother and Nicholas wanting "more than anything to be just like him." His hero worship is grounded in reality because his experiences with his brother enable him to know what he longs to be.
The brothers need to establish the type of life that they lived together growing up in order for readers to understand why they need to take the trip around the world together. The purpose of this chapter is to establish the genesis of the brothers' complex relationship, as they grow from being brothers to being best friends.