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Chicken Man is a drunk who hung out on "The Corner" in Louisville, Kentucky. While Chicken Man resembles a caricature and looks odd, he also provides James with insight. When Chicken Man finally sat him down and said: "Everybody on this corner is smart. You ain't no smarter than anybody here. If you so smart, why you got to come on this corner every summer? 'Cause you flunkin' school! You think if you drop out of school somebody's gonna beg you to go back? Hell no!...If you want to drop out of school and shoot people and hang on this corner all your life, go ahead! It's your life!"