The punishment by his mother doesn't surprise the boy, except in its degree. She has almost killed him, and in his unconscious state he hallucinates about the udders of great white cows hanging over his head. He is terrified that they will drench him in some terrible liquid surely a psychological reaction to his mother's ruthless beating, an aversion to life itself, her milk. As the very first scene of the book, this episode establishes Richard's position as a rebel within his family; after surviving this beating, no amount of punishment can break his spirit. It is as if his mother's punishment has the reverse of the desired effect. By going to the limits of brutality with him at such a young age, she has released in him the power to survive beyond the normal bounds of human endurance. Right off, it must be made clear that the complexity of the pre-individualistic society is such that love
This is the end of the preview.
access the rest of the document.