“Punishment for acting above your station was a central principle in [Elwood’s grandmother] Harriet’s interpretation of the world. In the hospital, Elwood wondered if the viciousness of his beating owed something to his request for harder classes: Get that uppity nigger. Now he worked on a new theory: There was no higher system guiding Nickel’s [the reform school] brutality, merely an indiscriminate spite, one that had nothing to do with people. A figment from 10th grade science struck him: a Perpetual Misery Machine, one that operated by itself without human agency. Also, Archimedes … Violence is the only lever big enough to move the world.” (p. 85)