Black Boy Chapter 11
Beale St. is rumored to be a place of crime and depravity, so when Richard sees a rent sign in the window of a house, he worries that it might actually be a brothel. A woman sees him outside and heartily calls him inside. Her name is Mrs. Moss, and she introduces him to Bess, her daughter who is about his age. Contrary to all he has been told, these are the friendliest and most innocent people he has ever met. Within a few hours, Mrs. Moss has decided that Richard is such a nice person that he would make a great husband for Bess. Bess seems stupidly naive to Richard, but he wants to be polite and does not know what to say. He wants to move out, because he is getting more uncomfortable and Bess is becoming more and more strangely seductive, but they won't let him--they know he is hungry and are kind and supportive. "Could she ever understand my life?" he wonders about Bess, doubtfully. Chapter 11, pg. 217 To Richard, they are sweet but painfully simple. He stays with them.
In Memphis, he has an experience that makes him realize that he is not as sophisticated or worldly as he thought: he meets a boy by chance on the road, and they come upon a jug of bootleg alcohol. The boy suggests they sell it to an approaching white man. The man agrees and tells them to transport it to his car. He gives them some money, which the boy then goes to get changed. When he does not return, Richard realizes that the man and boy were using him to dispose of their stash!