Pearl's sister and her family live in the suburban community of Jamaica in the borough of Queens. They represent the flight of the black middle class from Harlem after World War II. Whenever given half a chance, Uncle Wilson articulates the theory that a black man's best interest is served by escaping the slums. Although the argument has merit, Wilson's own college-educated son, Jeff, is beginning to wonder if he might not do more good by working within communities like Harlem. All of this influences Alfred who thinks only of escape early in the novel but grows to an understanding of service within the community by the novel's closing chapters.