| Quote #1
In shaking hands I was doing something that I was to do countless times in the years to come: acting in conformity with what others expected of me even though, by the very nature and form of my life, I did not and could not share their spirit. (1.2.3)
Conformity—and he might get cooties.
| Quote #2
We spoke boastfully in bass voices; we used the word "nigger" to prove the tough fiber of our feelings […] and we strove to convince one another that our decisions stemmed from ourselves and ourselves alone. Yet we frantically concealed how dependent we were upon one another. (1.3.2)
So much for rappers making the n-word popular in black communities. Richard and his friends pretend to be big and bad, but they’re really just scared 11-year-olds who want to fit in.
| Quote #3
This business of saving souls had no ethics; every human relationship was shamelessly exploited. In essence, the tribe was asking us whether we shared its feelings; if we refused to join the church, it was equivalent to saying no, to placing ourselves in the position of moral monsters. (1.6.98)
Anyone who has been excluded from all the popular cliques could tell you that being part of a group matters. In black southern culture, the church is the popular clique to end all popular cliques.