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Chapter 15 Notes from Black Boy

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Black Boy Chapter 15

Although Chicago's industrial streets intimidate him, Richard finds that it is less frightening to try to find a job there than in the South. People are kinder and more courteous, inviting him to come inside from the cold, for example. He gets hired as a porter for a Jewish couple, the Hoffmans, who own a deli. Their accents are so strong that he cannot understand them, and feels tense even though they do not act racist. They try to reassure him but he is too frightened and accustomed to racism to change. "Color hate defined the place of black life as below that of white life," he explains. Chapter 15, pg. 266

He takes a day off to try to get a job with the postal service, and lies to his boss, telling him he had to go to a funeral. Though the boss knows he is lying and tries to convince him that he needn't be afraid to tell him the truth, Richard is too frightened of being beaten or killed. Extremely embarrassed, he leaves the job.

Topic Tracking: Loneliness 9

He quickly finds another job as a busboy, and is amazed at how friendly and relaxed the white waitresses are around him. The cook, however, is a problem: he catches her spitting in the food. Not knowing what to do, he alerts a fellow black employee. She cautiously tells their white boss what the white cook is doing. After initial suspicion, the boss realizes they are telling the truth and fires the cook, and Richard wonders if whites view blacks as disgusting and inhuman in the same way that they view someone like that cook.

At this point in his life, Richard has no friends and no need for friends. Although his mind churns with ideas, he thinks nothing of keeping them to himself, because he doesn't know anyone to share them with. He is working menial jobs and living with his Aunt Maggie, mother and brother, who disdain his voracious reading. He tries to write, and feels claustrophobic; finally, he moves in with his mother and brother and his Aunt Cleo.

Topic Tracking: Loneliness 10

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