Richard is a hungry young boy...he is starving inside his stomach and starving in his emotional and personal needs. Obviously, as he begins to work in his several jobs, his weight drops. The stale bread and molasses he receives from a white woman does not suffice, in fact he turns it down (147). His scrawny 100 pound body is not the only factor affected by hunger; he also longs for love/acceptance and freedom. His mom, and God-fearing grandparents force Christianity upon him, and in his heart, he does not feel prepared for such a pious lifestyle. For example, during the baptismal service, Mom guilts him into baptism, "If I refused, it meant that I did not love my mother, and no man in that tight little black community had ever been crazy enough to let himself be placed in such a position" (154). This does not necessarily mean that he rejects religion all together, but rather he wants to take personal responsibility in making choices. He wants to discover the wonders of the world around him: fictional stories, school, relationships, and profit.
Hunger keeps and individual focused on their prize or their eventual goal. One will go to outrageous lengths to "make their dreams come true" and will place that factor at the center of their life. Richard is obviously very confident. His confidence is demonstrated through his numerous brawls with his family members, and the weapons he does not hesitate to use (159). Through his focus, he lands himself with several decent jobs for white families, (newspaper writing, yardwork, etc.) bringing him spare cash to spend. On the contrary, personal hunger sometimes creates conflict. Rich's parents reject his choices of working by never helping him succeed or encourage his pursuits. And through their constant name calling and "beating," he feels less inclined to rely on them.