Richard's father is only very briefly presented in the book, but the effect of his personality is strong. Richard never feels close to him; he is only frightened by him. At first, in Memphis, his sleeping habits interfere with the boys' games and his temper is irrational. Later on, when Richard's mother tries to get some support from him and brings along the boy to remind him of his responsibilities, he is openly living with another woman. The scene that takes place affects Richard not so much because of the embarrassment it causes him and his mother, but rather because his father and the strange woman seem to share a secret. His father is clearly more at ease with his new woman than he ever was with Richard's mother. They have a laughing, sensuous relationship which mocks all the suffering which Richard and his mother must endure. Years later, when Richard meets his father again, it is in Mississippi and the old man is a
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