Racism is born out of fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of not having power. When the people of Ruby feel that their shared existence is threatened, and in their desperation to find some kind of solution, the townspeople blame and attack the women in the Convent. The women become convenient scapegoats for all the unresolved emotions pent up in the prominent men of Ruby, who have felt powerless to halt the unraveling of their homes. Because they do not understand these women and feel helpless, the men do to them what has been done to African Americans for centuries.