A thoughtful, if at times uneventful novel, developed from a short story which originally appeared in the Antioch Review, this pursues a white man's attempt to apply, democracy in a Harlem school. Matthew Stratton, after the death of a friend during the war, takes a job in New York's blackbelt out of the ""guilt of safety"", confronts the antagonism of the boys he is to teach --particularly Johnny Boston ""with hate all packed tight in him"". More in the past than in the present, this returns to Stratton's youth, his first love, his first contacts on the liberal-intellectual fringe; his friendship with Howard, who had died; and his love for Anne, who had also loved Howard, but who now is free. At the close, with Johnny Boston's outbreak into violence and death, Stratton finds he has lost another battle- but not hope. Analytical, presumably self-analytical writing, this has both honesty and vision, but lacks concentrated dramatic action.