In Chapter 9 the narrator is still trying to establish a new identity that is different from the one he had a southern college student. In New York he is eager to be seen as sophisticated, to fit into a metropolitan society, instead of being categorized immediately as a southern black. The counterman offers him the special of "pork chops, grits, one egg, hot biscuits and coffee" because he believes this combination will "excite" his customer. The narrator is dismayed and asks himself, "Could everyone see I was a southern boy?" Trying to establish that he isn't a "pork chop man," he "coldly" orders what he believes to be a typical New Yorker's breakfast.
As the novel unfolds, the narrator will undergo a number of experiences that will help him to determine his true identity.