Richard’s development is dramatic because up until now he has been something of a mother’s boy. His father died when Richard was six, leaving Richard in the sole care of his mother, an exceedingly religious woman, who enrolled him in the Episcopalian boys’ boarding school so he could be in the company of other boys and men. Yet the woman herself took up residence on the school’s grounds, causing Richard to hang around her cottage, trying to get a glimpse of her (usually denied). Meanwhile, Richard apparently suffered the harsh, lonely fate of most mother’s boys who are dropped into the midst of the wolf pack. His self-mortifications and fantasies of martyrdom are obvious emotional outlets. To Richard, intimidated and demoralized, his lack of status is still excruciatingly evident. Even on this Good Friday morning, the older boys scorn his meekly offered statements and refer to him as “crazy”—a judgment with which Richard privately concurs.
As Richard grows and asserts himself, there are stirrings of rebellion against his mother and against religion, which he associates with his mother and with effeminate behavior. He feels a moment of hatred for his mother, who teaches that being good means submitting to the unhappiness that God decrees. In that case, Richard thinks, who wants to be good? Other available models of goodness are hardly more inspiring. Poor Claude Gray, with his effeminate voice, looks, and manners, is grotesque in his...
(The entire section is 485 words.)