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Quotes

Quote #4

"You’ll never amount to anything," he said, shaking his head and blinking his eyes in astonishment.

"I’m not worried about that," I said. "All I want you to do is keep away from me, now and always..."

"You’ll end on the gallows," he predicted.

"If I do, you’ll have nothing to do with it," I said.

[…]

"Somebody will yet break your spirit," he said.

"It won’t be you!"

"You’ll get yours someday!"

"You won’t be the one to give it to me!" (1.6.42-57)

Uncle Tom tells Richard what lots of people want to tell him: he’s no big shot, and he’s going to fail soon enough. But if Uncle Tom thinks he’s going to be the one keeping Richard down, he’s got another thing coming. Richard has way bigger fish to fry—or knife.

Quote #5

I was building up in me a dream which the entire educational system of the South had been rigged to stifle. I was feeling the very thing that the state of Mississippi had spent millions of dollars to make sure that I would never feel; I was becoming aware of the thing that the Jim Crow laws had been drafted and passed to keep out of my consciousness; I was acting on impulses that southern senators in the nation’s capital had striven to keep out of Negro life; I was beginning to dream the dreams that the state had said were wrong, that the schools had said were taboo. (1.7.123)

Sounds like a conspiracy, doesn’t it? We wish this actually were some kind of Bigfoot, Loch Ness monster sort of stuff, but it’s the real deal. You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Quote #6

Somewhere in the dead of the southern night my life had switched onto the wrong track and, without my knowing it, the locomotive of my heart was rushing down a dangerously steep slope, heading for a collision, heedless of the warning red lights that blinked all about me, the sirens and the bells and the screams that filled the air. (1.7.126)

Why is it so dangerous for Richard to dream? Why could it end in death? Could it be because Richard has no idea how to conduct a train?

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