In this novel, the crushing confinements of the Harlem ghetto, a number of city blocks without sky, conceived from the stuff of fear, conspires to corrupt and destroy a son and his mother. Wade, at thirty-eight, has been a good son, bringing money home to Mumma, never tricking her like his slippery brother. Yet after he has spent time in a mental hospital for assaulting his sister in a blind rage he cannot remember, Wade searches back through violence for his story and his attempt to break free of the ghetto. It was the determined little ""Professor,"" who had attempted, when Wade was twelve, to enroll him in a white school, who tried to encourage his creativity and wanted him to escape. But for Mumma the little man was a butt of contempt, and wade's brief breath of freedom in France, his moments of manhood and his reaching for dignity, are outside Mumma's realm. Realizing that the fear in his mother's eyes, fear of freedom and what it means, has really destroyed him, Wade kills her, yet it is still on ""Mumma's street"" that he stands without a home... In its dispersion of conflicts, a punchy though Uneven first novel; sometimes strident, it still comes on strong.