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In Chapter Three, Mr. Steward, the white former sheriff, rides up to the store; he tells Momma to have Willie stay inside and out of sight, since a black man messed with a white woman earlier that day, and some of the white men from the town will probably get revenge' by making trouble in the black part of town. Maya overhears this exchange, and is afraid of what might happen. She also dislikes Mr. Steward for being condescending and thinking that the black men of the town were servile cowards, who would just crawl away when the white folks got angry.
Mr. Steward is a symbol of the condescension that many whites in the book have for black people; and the "boys" tell of the great hatred that some white people have, and how this hatred can distort a person completely.