Jus' can't understand how it feels t' have a white daddy, that's all. Can't figure out how you could love a white daddy who owned your mama and you. Can't figure out how you can be so crazy 'bout them white brothers of yours neither, when once y'all grown, they'll be the boss and you'll be jus' another n*****.

Paul and Mitchell have this conversation in the third chapter, "Family," after Mitchell defends Paul to a band of black boys picking on him for reading. With these words, Mitchell explains some of his early scorn for Paul—he sees Paul as a dupe, fooled by his white family into believing a fantasy that will disintegrate by the time he is an adult. From Mitchell's perspective, Paul has overlooked and forgiven the fact that his father once owned slaves and took his mother as a mistress without her consent. Paul has traded his indignation and fury at his father's lifestyle for physical ease and the promise that he is, in essence, white. Of course, Mitchell is much less sheltered than Paul, having experienced the sharp sting of racist oppression. Mitchell has a truer, more objective picture of Paul's family's priorities. Mitchell's predictions come true. Once Paul's family reveals their true loyalties, Paul understands that family bonds are less resilient than bonds of race.