One day Richard reads an article that denounces H.L. Mencken, and he decides to learn more about this so-called "Fool."
One problem, though. He can't use the library, because obviously books are dangerous weapons in the hands of black people. Sort of like nunchucks, only, you know, less deadly when used with direct force.
Richard devises a plot to use someone else's library card. But whose?
Ah, the Catholic! People hate him almost as much as they hate black people. Perfect.
So Richard goes to ask the Catholic, named Falk, and, miracle of all miracles, he agrees. Richard forges a letter asking the librarian to let Richard use the card to check out some books for Falk. Then, further miracle, the librarian accepts the fake letter and he actually gets the books.
Richard starts reading and his mind is blown. Since he’s only read magazines and pulp fiction before, he’s like, Poe? Mark Twain? Who are these guys? How are you making me feel things with words? Basically, it’s a whole new world, a new fantastic point of view, and Richard is loving this carpet ride.
Reading even helps him begin to unravel the problem of racism, understanding on a larger scale what it means for him to be a black man in the South. Still, he thinks that no other black people share his interests, not even professionals.
Meanwhile, Richard’s brother (who, by the way, is named Alan) has joined him in Memphis and is helping save money. But they’re still stuck in Memphis and don’t know how they’re going to get to Chicago, or what they’re going to do when they’re there.