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Richard's life was affected by his mother's illness in several ways. Firstly, it brought instability into his life. He had always depended upon her and after she had a small stroke he was sent to an orphanage and later to relatives. Her illness also marks the beginning of a series of moves the family makes.
Secondly, Richard marks his mother's illness as the end of his childhood. As she was unable to work, Richard begins to try to provide for the family. His mother's illness comes to represent "all the pain and suffering in his life." (enotes) And the boy has to take on the adult role of being a provider for the family.
Most significantly though, he begins to put his emotions and his pain on to paper. This would certainly be a major turning point in his life. He has entered adulthood, albeit too soon, and has found a place to vent his pain and suffering. It is out of these early attempts at writing that his talent grew.
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