Sing, Unburied, Sing

by

Jesmyn Ward

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Sing, Unburied, Sing: Chapter 6: Richie Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Richie knows immediately that Jojo is River’s (Pop’s) child. He can tell from the way that Jojo tries to protect Kayla. Just after Richie died, he woke in a pine forest and found that “walking was like swimming.” A white creature resembling a snake and a bird approached him and asked if he wanted to leave this place, to go “up and away… and around.” Richie flew through the sky, following the snake-bird. He thought of River, who he sees as both his “big brother” and his “father.” Richie wants to tell Jojo all his stories, but knows that he can’t.
For the first time we are given a point of view other than Leonie and Jojo, as Richie narrates this chapter. Just as Pop is more of a father to Jojo than a grandfather, so too did he have a parent-son relationship with Richie (though they were not biologically related at all). This emphasizes the idea that family is not created through biology, but instead is made through the act of care. At the same time, these connections can be severed by violence and death, leaving people lost and yearning for one another.
Themes
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Richie notes that even though there is a bad history between black people and dogs, River was at ease with all animals, and the dogs behaved well for him. This was not true for Richie. Things got worse when the enormous white man nicknamed Hogjaw returned to Parchman. Hogjaw was a “killer” who had escaped Parchman once but was brought back. Richie wants to tell Jojo how River tried to save him “again and again.” But Richie doesn’t say anything; he decides to wait.
The bad history between black people and dogs emerges from the time of slavery. During this era, white people would use dogs to track runaways and to torture and kill enslaved people. This brutal legacy continued through the use of dogs by the police and lynch mobs.
Themes
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Miscegenation Theme Icon
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