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In many ways, Kenny loses his innocence as a result of this experience. He will never be able to un-see what he saw at that church, and he has learned a lot about the type of hatred that exists in the world and the way it can completely change people. He realizes how precious life is, but also how fragile. At first he is not okay with this, and attempts to gain some of his childlike innocence back by hiding behind the couch and letting the "magic powers" he believed in when he was younger bring him back to his former state. In the end, though, he accepts that he is different now, and decides that that might not necessarily be a bad thing.
Kenny is not the only one who grows up as a result of this event. Even though the Watsons clearly decided not to leave Byron in Birmingham with Grandma Sands, it is clear that the trip to the South accomplished exactly what it was intended to do: change Byron's ways. Byron has now seen first-hand the type of hatred that exists in the world; it has humbled him, matured him, and made him realize that there are things far more important than joking and acting up. Byron is the only one who can successfully make Kenny feel better after returning to Flint. The talking-to he gives him in the bathroom at the end of the novel is a sign of his newfound maturity—and to prove he's grown up, he has even started growing a beard.