How we cite our quotes:
Outside it was getting dark. The streetlight came on outside the window. The two men at the counter read the menu. From the other end of the counter Nick Adams watched them. He had been talking to George when they came in. (5)
Because Nick’s character is introduced as someone watching, observing, we know he is going to be affected by whatever happens in the story.
"Hey, bright boy," Max said to Nick. "You go around on the other side of the counter with your boy friend."
"What’s the idea?" Nick asked. (57-8)
Nick’s question is echoed twice in the following lines, but he establishes the general feel of innocence in the lunchroom. The three victims are so unaccustomed to such behavior, they can’t even figure out what’s going on.
"No," said Max. "It ain’t that. Bright boy is nice. He’s a nice boy. I like him." (122)
For being a killer, Max definitely has a more compassionate, emotionally innocent side to him.