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Wright is able to portray a kind of innocence in his childhood years. Richard possesses a mischievous spirit and immense curiosity. He isn't at all sure of how "the world" works. Asking his mother "why did the white' man whip the black' boy," Richard is still unaware of the social relationship between blacks and whites. "To me [whites] were merely people like other people," he says. Similarly, when Richard traipses around the saloon, he has no idea of the grossness of the words he repeats for the entertainment of the adults.
Throughout chapter one, as well as the rest of the novel, Wright places a special emphasis on the theme of hunger. Growing up in poverty, Richard is always hungry, yearning for food and left with a feeling of emptiness. This image of hunger is also used by Wright to display Richard's thirst for knowledge: he is hungry to learn about the world, to devour knowledge. This hunger for knowledge reflects the growth or want of of Richard as an intellectual and artist.