It is somewhat difficult to judge the extent of Crane’s genuine sympathy toward Richard because Wright does not comment on it. We can only assume Wright does not comment on Crane’s attitude because he wants us to think for ourselves about how racism—or rather our conceptions of racism—make it difficult to form a definite impression of others’ intentions. Racism is a difficult problem not just because of its overt violence and discrimination, but because it often operates in much more subtle forms. Mr. Crane clearly shows Richard some degree of kindness, but something nonetheless prevents him from treating Richard as an equal.
Chapter 11 is a chapter of reversals. In the overall context of Black Boy, the move to the city itself represents a reversal. Richard’s agonizing small-town life is quickly replaced by a surprisingly comfortable life in the city. In the process, he exchanges despair for hope and antagonistic relationships for easy and trustful ones. Likewise, another reversal occurs when Bess shifts from passionately declaring her love for Richard to passionately declaring her hatred for him. Moreover, Richard does not believe he merits Mrs. Moss’s and Bess’s trust because he is hustling them, but then he himself is hustled when the white and black strangers team up and use him to unload the bootleg liquor. Wright presents these last two events in such away that they achieve a meaningful symmetry—Richard’s “hustling” of Bess and her mother is balanced by his being hustled the next day. At the center of all of these changes lies the city, a setting Wright presents as a highly dynamic place, where tremendous changes and shifts occur in short spans of time.