Semi-autobiographical in tone, the story is a powerful statement about the inevitable fate of African-Americans as a result of racial inequality and social injustice. As Bigger's lawyer points out, there is no escape from this destiny for his client or any other black American, since they are the necessary product of the society that raised them.
The book was an immediate best-seller, selling 250,000 harcover copies in its initial run. The book was also one of the earliest successful attempts to explain the racial divide in America in terms of the social conditions imposed on African Americans by the dominant white society.
See also, Black Boy