This is the poignant story of the life of a Southerner, bastard son of a white father of prominent family and a Negro girl, told by the author in his old age. The setting of the story is Sewanee, Tennessee, with its curious and complex mixture of racial mores. Ely found himself a favorite among the white aristocracy, who were inclined to show an affection for the Negroes they withheld from the poor whites. But with the death of his mother, when he was five years old, he entered into the world of the Negro community, where he was subjected to abuse by other Negro children because of his mixed blood and illegitimacy. The story of his gradual awakening to the meaning of his Negro heritage and of the explosion of bitterness and rage that made him flee to Texas, brings the story to a conclusion as he approaches manhood. The narrative is simple, rapid, unspoiled by sentimentality of any kind.