Eugene's mother is a nurse who works at St. Joseph's Hospital, comes from Georgia, and recently moves to Paterson, New Jersey in August of 1963. They move into a predominantly African American neighborhood, but live next door to El Building which houses mostly immigrants from Puerto Rico. Because she and her family are Caucasian and from the South, they experience some of what most minorities feel all the time. For Eugene's mother, though, the house they are living in is only temporary because they plan to move away soon. It seems as if she is also prejudiced because she won't allow a Puerto Rican girl study with her son:
"Eugene doesn’t want to study with you. He is a smart boy. Doesn’t need help. You understand me. I am truly sorry if he told you you could come over. He cannot study with you. It’s nothing personal. You understand? We won’t be in this place much longer, no need for him to get close to people—it’ll just make it harder for him later. Run back home now" (Lines 230-234).
Eugene's mother probably grew up like most Southern girls who are taught that segregation between races is not only O.K., but the right thing to do. Hence, she is probably against mixed-race couples or even mixed-race friendships. As a result, she sends away a girl who might have been her son's only friend at the time.