The Question and Answer section for Black Boy is a great resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.
I believe she was a cook.
Richard writes out of isolation and an inability to express his real feelings to people. Richard does not want to be labeled and is happy when his words confuse others.
Richard yearns to know more about the authors he alludes to: Conrad, Lewis, Dostoyevski, Flaubert, and more. Richard sits up in his room, eating out of cans while reading great literary works and feeding his hunger.