Sing, Unburied, Sing

by

Jesmyn Ward

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Sing, Unburied, Sing: Chapter 12: Richie Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Richie watches River make Jojo and Kayla breakfast, and take them outside to pick berries. Richie begs Jojo to tell him what the berries taste like, but Jojo ignores him. Richie is so jealous of Jojo’s family that he can hardly bear to look at them. He lies down in the dirt under the house and sings. While Richie is singing, he sees water and land dotted with trees and houses and people. The people are all singing too, but Richie can’t hear a single word. Then the vision disappears, and Richie is alone again. 
This passage explores the positive and negative sides of family. On one hand, Jojo’s family is a source of love, support, care, and happiness. On the other hand, Richie’s exclusion from this family serves as a reminder that families are inherently exclusive. By their nature, they cannot include everyone, and this leaves Richie feeling isolated and heartbroken.
Themes
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Richie sees Leonie tell Michael that she has something to do, and for a second he sees Given, but, just as suddenly, Given is gone. Richie watches Leonie walk to Given’s grave and ask him if he would gather the things Mam has requested. She begins to cry and admits: “Maybe I’m too selfish.” Eventually, Leonie gathers the rocks and walks back with them, crying. Back at home, Richie sees Mam look at Leonie “with so much understanding and love that I hear the song again.” The snake-bird flies in and sits on the windowsill.
Despite Leonie’s inner turmoil and sadness, this scene is an optimistic one. Mam loves Leonie so much that it seems to cancel out all of Leonie’s flaws. The connection between this deep, unconditional form of love and the song that Richie hears suggests that the song may represent the connection of all people, living and dead, and indeed perhaps of every part of the world.
Themes
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon