A nineteen-year-old Negro soldier lies in a military hospital in France awaiting a psychiatric examination to determine why he attempted suicide--the catch being that he doesn't know himself. Contrary to normal conjecture, the main theme n Saul Iyanough Beckworth's mind runs in (of all things) racial, not psychopathic, channels. By means of interior monologues and nightmares, pains are taken to show that Saul is not an ""ordinary"" Negro. A multilingual translator and the educated son of a foreign service officer, he grew up in several countries--in the extra- territorial white world. Unfortunately for his psyche, he is now in the army whose ranks are sprinkled with paradigmatic Southerners and slightly tainted Yankees. It might also seem that racism caused his fling at suicide, but that is too easy an answer and a full solution is not at hand within the book. Accepting his facile discharge as a case of wary super-justice, Saul is unable to give himself either to his French love or to his old friend Heinz when they visit him at the hospital. In the end Saul is left with his problems (despite a meager suggestion of epiphany when he dives in to save the life of a duck), and the reader is left with an array of underdrawn characters and the fashionable topic of prejudice--here deployed to no great literary value. Although their fictional situation seems promising at first, these are definitely not ""the people one knows.