My life as a Negro in America had led me to feel . . . that the problem of human unity was more important than bread, more important than physical living itself; for I felt that without a common bond uniting men . . . there could be no living worthy of being called human.
This passage, from the beginning of Chapter 18, appears just after Richard returns from his first meeting with the John Reed Club. Richard muses that, judging from his experience, the fundamental problem of social existence is a lack of “human unity,” not the need for physical food for individual survival. To Richard, Communism, with its focus on the masses, the unity of oppressed peoples, and equality across all lines of race and gender, appears dedicated to solving precisely this problem. Richard feels a spiritual connection with Communism and feels almost as if it has brought him a spiritual awakening.