Richard is not a bad child, however he is not the perfect child either. He behaves erratically, but that is only the result of the lack of parenting he receives from his parents on a daily basis. The modern day white v.s. black conflict is a mystery to him; he does not understand the immense hatred both races carry against each other. His family teaches him to handle situations on his own without the benefit of parental assistance like the afternoon when Rich had to purchase groceries, "If you come back into this house without those groceries, I'll wip you" (18). The wipping discipline evolves into a fear and an expected consequence of bad behavior. Due to the sheltering nature of his overly-christian grandmother and no-nonsense parents, he becomes rebellious and explores the taboo activities without their consent, "I staggered along the pavements, drunk, repeating obscenities..." (21).
The cliche "everybody makes mistakes" is a fine example for Richard, and everybody in general. We learn from discipline, much from our elders (parents, professors) and that is acceptable. It is when one continues to misbehave following their discpline that they enounter trouble. Richard's environment is far from safe, his parents reprimand him, but not in a teaching method, rather a pain-filled experience. He does not understand their intent sometimes, like when Rich stangled a kitten after his father instructed him non-intentionally. This leads Richard to trust others leading him down the road to a dangerous environment. The blame is placed among an individual once they are aware of wrong doings, but among the outside world once one is in the process of grasping reality.