Why does Eddie have to apologize to Mr. Stiles' neighbor in Buried Onions?

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Eddie must apologize to Mr. Stile's neighbors because of, essentially, racism against Eddie. Eddie is accused of saying "bitch" by the neighbor's young son, when in reality he said "birch." In the moment, Eddie clarified to the young boy that he in fact said "birch," but the boy complains anyways, and Mr. Stiles becomes very angry with Eddie. Eddie is not believed over the word of a young child and must deal with the fallout of the kid's lies. Eddie is constantly having to deal with the effects of racism, and this situation is just another example of how he must deal with the discrimination of white society. Even after he painstakingly explains how he did not curse, he is still marched over to the neighbored house like a young child to apologize.

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Eddie had to apologize to Mr. Stiles' neighbor because of a misunderstanding that took place between Eddie and Mr. Stiles' neighbor's son the previous day. Eddie had been digging a hole in Mr. Stiles' driveway when a blue-eyed boy drove by on a bicycle and inquired about what Eddie was doing. Eddie responded telling the boy that he was digging the hole in preparation to plant a birch tree. However, the boy misheard Eddie’s reply and thought Eddie mentioned the word “bitch.” He must have mentioned it to his mother because the following day when Eddie reported to work, Mr. Stiles seemed displeased. After Eddie had clarified the conversation between him and the boy, Mr. Stiles accompanied him to the neighbor’s house so that Eddie could apologize.

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