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Unformatted text preview: The story begins when four-year-old Richard sets fire to his grandmother's house in Jackson, Mississippi, and, as punishment, is nearly beaten to death by his mother. He recovers, and the brutal punishment establishes in Richard an ability to survive any circumstance. The family then moves to Memphis, Tennessee, where Richard's father eventually deserts the family. In Memphis, Richard learns about racism both from what he observes in the world and how his family members humiliate themselves in front of whites. It is also here that Richard becomes alienated from God and the Christian faith, developing in its place an abiding love of the natural world. As Richard grows up, he begins to see how easily he might repeat the patterns that have trapped black men for generations. When his mother becomes ill, however, Richard moves with her back to Jackson to live with his oppressive grandmother. There, sees opportunities for breaking out of his Jackson to live with his oppressive grandmother....
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- Fall '08