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The relief assignment moves Richard again, to the Federal Writer’s Project. He not only keeps this job but scores a promotion, moving up the ranks to acting supervisor.
Great! Until, once again, it all goes wrong. Richard's boss calls him in and tells him that people are asking for him to be fired. Can you guess which people? Hint, it starts with a "c" and they like to wear red.
Richard is not too quick on the uptake and the boss has to spell out for him how Communists also booted him off his last job at the Negro theatre.
The Communists are serious about this. One day, Richard leaves the building and sees a picket line standing outside the building, out for his blood—or at least his feelings. As he walks past, they start shouting at him and calling his name. Richard is super, super bummed.
Instead of pulling out a knife—yay for maturity—Richard tries to make an appointment to meet with the Party Secretary. They totally diss him, setting up a meeting with the Secretary’s secretary instead. Remember, this is the guy who was the head of the John Reed Club for a while. He’s not just some shmoe off the streets.
The Secretary’s secretary doesn’t even give Richard the time of day, and he leaves her office feeling totally defeated.
All the unions march on May Day. (Not the kind of May Day with the fun May Pole, by the way.) Richard tries hop in the march with the Communists.
This turns out to have been a bad idea, when he’s literally dragged out of the march by his shirt collar.
Richard is so shocked that he has been assaulted that he just stands there while the line goes by, and then he finally realizes that these people be crazy, yo. Finally! We could have told you that, you know, about a hundred pages ago.
At home, Richard paces around his room and thinks emo thoughts about his life. What was the point? Why did he come to the North? Why did he struggle so much? What the heck is he going to have for lunch?
And then he decides: tuna melt on rye.
No, no. He decides to write. He wants to connect with the outside world and touch the hearts of other people through his words. He wants to make them feel what he feels: hunger, but not just for lunch. A hunger for a better life.