Aunt Sara takes pride in both her sons, mixed-race William and his half-brother, Jim. While hard-working Jim remains at home to tend to the farm, William heads for the bright lights of Macon, ostensibly to study theology. But his cold, hard, and calculating nature steers William away from school and toward the low company of the city's gambling dens. Worse yet, his jealous rivalry with Jim for the affections of their childhood playmate leads William to a dreadful act of betrayal. "This is an authentic everyday story of thousands of little families below the Mason-Dixon line, bound to the soil by poverty and blackness, but living their enclosed lives always in the hope that someday some one of them may escape the family group and go on to higher things," noted Langston Hughes. In his Foreword to Mercedes Gilbert's 1938 novel of small-town rural life in the South, Hughes offered favorable comparisons to Jonah's Gourd Vine by Zora Neale Hurston and George Henderson's Ollie Miss. Decades later, the book remains an important document of African-American social history.