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The burning building represents the burning of oppression against blacks. By the narrator hearing the couple say "race riot", his night finally takes shape and his purpose to the Brotherhood takes on its true meaning. As he acknowledges, "The committee planned it. And I had helped, had been a tool. A tool just at they very moment when I had thought myself free". Coming to terms with the Sambo doll role he has played in igniting the fears and anger of the community, the narrator again must run.