Sing, Unburied, Sing

by

Jesmyn Ward

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on Sing, Unburied, Sing can help.

Richie Character Analysis

Richie is a 12-year-old boy who was imprisoned in Parchman with Pop. Richie had nine siblings and would steal food to feed them, which is why he was sent to prison. Small and weak, he struggled to work and relied on Pop to help protect him at the prison. Richie eventually tried to escape Parchman along with Blue, but was caught by the guards. After the guards skinned Blue alive, Pop killed Richie in order to spare him any further suffering. Richie’s ghost comes back to haunt Jojo, as without knowing how he died, Richie’s soul cannot rest. Eventually, Richie learns the truth and is able to find peace in the afterlife.

Richie Quotes in Sing, Unburied, Sing

The Sing, Unburied, Sing quotes below are all either spoken by Richie or refer to Richie. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Scribner edition of Sing, Unburied, Sing published in 2017.
Chapter 6: Richie Quotes

There had always been bad blood between dogs and Black people: they were bred adversaries––slaves running from the slobbering hounds, and then the convict man dodging them.

Related Characters: Richie (speaker)
Page Number: 138
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7: Leonie Quotes

Sometimes I think it done changed. And then I sleep and wake up, and it ain't changed none.

Related Characters: Richie (speaker)
Related Symbols: Parchman
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9: Richie Quotes

I know Jojo is innocent because I can read it in the unmarked swell of him: his smooth face, ripe with baby fat; his round, full stomach; his hands and feet soft as his younger sister's. He looks even younger when he falls asleep. His baby sister has flung herself across him, and both of them slumber like young feral cats: open mouths, splayed arms and legs, exposed throats. When I was thirteen, I knew much more than him. I knew that metal shackles could grow into the skin. I knew that leather could split flesh like butter. I knew that hunger could hurt, could scoop me hollow as a gourd, and that seeing my siblings starving could hollow out a different part of me, too.

Related Characters: Richie (speaker), Jojo , Kayla (Michaela)
Page Number: 185
Explanation and Analysis:

I didn't understand time, either, when I was young. How could I know that after I died, Parchman would pull me from the sky? How could I imagine Parchman would pull me to it and refuse to let go? And how could I conceive that Parchman was past, present, and future all at once? That the history and sentiment that carved the place out of the wilderness would show me that time is a vast ocean, and that everything is happening at once?

Related Characters: Richie (speaker), Jojo , Kayla (Michaela)
Page Number: 186
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 13: Jojo Quotes

He ran so fast. Sometimes I had to follow him by sound. Him talking to hisself the whole time. Not hisself. His mama. Telling her he was coming home. That he wanted her to sing for him. Sing for your son, he said. Sing.

Related Characters: Richie (speaker), Blue
Related Symbols: Singing
Page Number: 252
Explanation and Analysis:

I said: It's going to be all right, Richie. He said. I heeled the dogs. Held out my hands to him, right side out. Moved slow. Soothed him. Said: We gone get you out of this. We gone get you away from here. Touched his arm: he was burning up. I'm going home, Riv? he asked. I squatted down next to him, the dogs steady yipping, and I looked at him. He had baby hair on the edge of his scalp, Jojo. Little fine hair he'd had since he sucked at his mama's tit. Yes, Richie. I'm a take you home, I said. And then I took the shank I kept in my boot and I punched it one time into his neck. In the big vein on his right side. Held him till the blood stopped spurting. Him looking at me, mouth open. A child. Tears and snot all over his face. Shocked and scared, until he was still.

Related Characters: Pop (River) (speaker), Richie (speaker), Jojo
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:

I washed my hands every day, Jojo. But that damn blood ain't never come out. Hold my hands up to my face, I can smell it under my skin. Smelled it when the warden and sergeant came up on us, the dogs yipping and licking blood from they muzzles. They'd torn his throat out, hamstringed him. Smelled it when the warden told me I'd done good. Smelled it the day they let me out on account I'd led the dogs that caught and killed Richie. Smelled it when I finally found his mama after weeks of searching, just so I could tell her Richie was dead and she could look at me with a stone face and shut the door on me.

Related Characters: Pop (River) (speaker), Jojo , Richie
Page Number: 255
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Sing, Unburied, Sing LitChart as a printable PDF.
Sing, Unburied, Sing PDF

Richie Character Timeline in Sing, Unburied, Sing

The timeline below shows where the character Richie appears in Sing, Unburied, Sing. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Jojo
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
...and drove them to Parchman. Pop recalls that the youngest person at Parchman then was Richie. At this point Kayla wakes up. Jojo gives her some juice and she asks him... (full context)
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
Pop explains that Richie was 12 years old, and had been sent to Parchman for stealing food, as had... (full context)
Chapter 3: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...everything” and that gris-gris bags help to achieve “a balance of spirit.” Pop explains that Richie was small and weak, which made it difficult to work the fields, so Pop tried... (full context)
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
One day while Pop and Richie were doing laundry, Kinnie Wagner rode past. Kinnie was a notorious white man who was... (full context)
Chapter 5: Jojo
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...never keep dogs after his time in Parchman. In Parchman, Pop had tried to get Richie put to work on the dogs, too, but it didn’t happen. Richie was once whipped... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...birds to Jojo. However, Jojo can’t see any. Jojo recalls Pop telling him that after Richie was whipped, he remained feverish, telling Pop that he dreamed of eating dirt. He then... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...Al’s, and Jojo eats his so fast that he gets the hiccups. He thinks about Richie’s dreams about eating dirt. Kayla still has a fever; Leonie says she looks better and... (full context)
Chapter 6: Richie
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Richie knows immediately that Jojo is River’s (Pop’s) child. He can tell from the way that... (full context)
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
Richie notes that even though there is a bad history between black people and dogs, River... (full context)
Chapter 8: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Miscegenation Theme Icon
When the police pull them over, Richie (who is sitting on the floor of the car) tells Jojo: “They going to chain... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Richie asks if Leonie is Jojo’s mother, and Jojo replies “No.” Richie says that he knows... (full context)
Chapter 9: Richie
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
Richie can see that Jojo is “innocent.” When Richie was his age, he knew more about... (full context)
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
Before Richie was sent to Parchman, he and his siblings had once found the remains of a... (full context)
Chapter 11: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...Kayla to bed, saying “we’ll talk about it tomorrow.” Once Kayla is asleep, Jojo sees Richie looking at Pop, his eyes full of hope. Richie tries to get Pop’s attention, but... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Outside, Richie asks why Pop can’t hear him, and Jojo admits he doesn’t know. Richie insists that... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Jojo wants to tell Mam about Richie, but instead he asks her where she will go when she dies. Mam replies that... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...does not have the ability to see ghosts, even though she inherited other psychic powers. Richie then starts singing and Mam can hear it, though she doesn’t know what it is.... (full context)
Chapter 12: Richie
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Richie watches River make Jojo and Kayla breakfast, and take them outside to pick berries. Richie... (full context)
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... (full context)
Chapter 13: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Jojo could hear Richie when he was lying in the dirt and singing. In the morning, Jojo helps Pop... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Miscegenation Theme Icon
Pop was sent to track the runaways, he says. Richie adds that while they were running, Blue talked aloud to his mother, telling her he... (full context)
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
Richie begins to scream. Pop explains that it wasn’t long before the dogs smelled blood and... (full context)
Chapter 14: Leonie
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Feeding, Healing, and Care Theme Icon
...he got what he came for, and Given joins in: “You heard my nephew. Go, Richie.” Leonie cannot see Richie, only Given. Jojo and Given see each other, and they nod,... (full context)
Chapter 15: Jojo
Family, Heritage, and Homecoming Theme Icon
Animals and Nature Theme Icon
Illness, Wounds, and Death Theme Icon
Race, Racism, and Miscegenation Theme Icon
...during the day. Jojo can hear animals and plants speaking, and sometimes he still sees Richie. Richie says he thought he would be able to cross over and go home once... (full context)